Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Ceisteanna (204)

Tom Neville


204. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the qualifications of a special needs assistant can be accepted for the early years childcare programme action and inclusion model; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10252/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

In June 2016, I introduced the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM), a new programme of supports to enable children with a disability to access and fully participate in the free pre-school programme.

AIM is not an SNA model.  Rather, it is a holistic model designed to support pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience.

One of the supports offered under AIM – Level 7 – is additional capitation.  Where approval for additional capitation has been agreed, and in circumstances where the maximum capitation has been approved, it can be used in one of two ways.  It can be used to reduce the adult to child ratio in the pre-school room, for example from 1 adult and 11 children down to 1 adult and 8 children, without any financial loss to the pre-school provider.  Alternatively, it can be used to buy in additional assistance to the pre-school room.

Applicants who intend to use additional capitation provided under AIM Level 7 to employ an additional person for the pre-school room or increase hours for existing staff must ensure that such staff have a Level 5 major award in early childhood care and education.

In order to meet the minimum regulatory standard, a qualification must show that the holder of the qualification has completed studies in the area of:

Child Development 0-6 years

Early Childhood Education – Theory and Practice

Child Health and Welfare 0-6 years

My Department maintains a list of Early Years Recognised Qualifications, a copy of which can be found on the Department’s website  This list shows all qualifications which have been approved by DCYA for work in the Early Years sector in Ireland to date.  Where a qualification is not published on the list of DCYA Early Years Recognised Qualifications but the holder considers it to be an appropriate Major Award at or above Level 5 on the NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications) or equivalent, they can apply to the Department to have their qualifications assessed for approval.

The Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 allow for an exemption to the qualification requirements for an employee of a registered childcare provider receiving funding under Level 7 of AIM.  This exemption is for children with medically complex needs who require specialised health support which is critical to the child’s meaningful participation in the ECCE programme.

There are no immediate plans to review these qualification requirements relating to AIM.