The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a programme of supports to enable children with a disability to access and fully participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. AIM supports children with disabilities to attend mainstream pre-school where they can learn and socialise with their peers. It includes 7 levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted. It is administered by Pobal on behalf of my Department. The degree of support provided depends on the needs of the child in the context of the pre-school setting they are attending.A pre-school provider, in partnership with a parent, can apply for AIM Level 7 additional capitation. Where the Better Start AIM Early Years Specialist considers that a Level 7 support is critical to a child's participation in the pre-school setting, they approve the additional capitation which can be used to reduce the adult to child ratio in the pre-school room or can be used to buy in additional assistance. In relation to the child referred to in the Deputy's question, Pobal has advised that AIM Level 7 Support was granted for this child on 12/10/2020. The service provider has engaged with Pobal via the ‘Notification of Change’ process to advise of the difficulties in recruiting a person to fill the AIM-funded role. Although the Department funds AIM supports, any recruitment process is carried out by the preschool provider. Neither the Department nor Pobal has any role in the recruitment of staff for preschool services.
Where parents need further information on options available to them for their child's early learning and care needs, they are encouraged to engage with their local County Childcare Committee (CCC) for advice on how best proceed. The CCC may be able to provide information on other settings in the area that may have capacity for the child to attend. The CCC may also be able to provide assistance to the pre-school service in filling the staff vacancy they have. Cork County Childcare Committee can be reached at: 022 23880 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org