Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (436)

Róisín Shortall


436. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of applications for AIM payments received in each year since the scheme was introduced; the number of applications in each year that were received before the programme year commenced; the average waiting time for processing payments; the number of payments that were made for the full programme year for applications that did not require a setting visit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48656/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of support that is designed to ensure that children with a disability can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) (free pre-school) programme. The key objective of AIM is to support early learning and care (ELC) providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that children with a disability can meaningfully participate in the ECCE programme, thereby reaping the benefits of quality pre-school education.  This year I have secured an additional €10 million for AIM in Budget 2020 of which a significant proportion will go to provide increased supports under AIM Level 7.

The following table provides information on the number of applications for AIM payments received for the full programme year and before the programme year commenced (on or before the last date prior the commencement of the programme year).

Programme Call

Total applications received

No. of applications made before programme year commenced

Programme start date

AIM Level 7 2016




AIM Level 7 2017




AIM Level 7 2018




AIM Level 7 2019




*Please note that this figure relates to applications received between May and 31 August.

The average waiting time for processing payments

AIM Level 7 payments are made in line with the payments schedule published in August with the first payment run processed three weeks after the commencement of the 2019/2020 ECCE Programme year.  Weekly catch up payments are also facilitated to minimise the time lag for services from approval to payment. In order to make an AIM Level 7 payment there must be an approved registration for the AIM child which reflects the level of AIM support awarded. Services are informed of this requirement as part of the decision notification process and regular communications (including timelines) are published on the Programme Implementation Platform (PIP).  The average timeframe from approval to payment is 3 weeks inclusive of the registration check process.  

The number of payments that were made for the full programme year for applications that did not require a setting visit

As per the AIM programme rules an observation visit is required for all applications made under the AIM Level 7 application process. However, in exceptional cases where the needs of a child are identified as highly or medically complex and to ensure the child’s participation in pre-school, AIM level 7 support may be awarded in advance of an observation visit being undertaken, provided this has been previously approved by Better Start. Within the current programme year (2019/2020) there have been 32 of these cases. Payment has been issued as per the AIM Level 7 payment schedule, when all pre-payment requirements have been met.