Is Free Pre-School Education Accessible to All?

 

Is Free Pre-School Education Accessible to All?

Views of parents and pre-school practitioners to be sought

Statement by Minister Katherine Zappone




Thursday 18th January, 2018

Parents and pre-schools using Government supports to make free childcare accessible to children with disabilities are being invited to give their views on the supports available.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, is encouraging participation in an Independent Review of the Access Inclusion Model (AIM), which has supported almost 5,000 children with disabilities since it was launched 18-months ago.

Overall, AIM represents a €25m investment by Government in 2018 alone and underlines Minister Zappone’s commitment to change our childcare system from being one of the most expensive in the world into the best.

The review will gather information that will reflect the experiences of the children, parents and pre-school practitioners availing of AIM supports as well as information from disability representative organisations. 

The review which is being carried out by RSM Ireland will include: 

An online survey of a representative sample of parents and pre-school practitioners; and

Qualitative interviews and case studies involving a small sample of stakeholders.

AIM provides seven levels of support, including enhanced continuing professional development for pre-school practitioners; the provision of equipment, appliances and grants for minor alterations; access to therapeutic intervention and increased capitation for pre-school providers in the case of children with very complex needs.

Views will be sought on each of the levels and will be used to help inform future policy and build truly accessible affordable quality childcare.

Speaking about the review, Minister Zappone said:

“The Access and Inclusion Model was launched just 18 months ago. In this short space of time, thousands of children have benefitted from AIM supports and the provision of free pre-school for children with a disability has been transformed.

Now is the time to review what has worked well and identify where improvements could be made. Hearing from parents, pre-school practitioners and key stakeholders will be vital in this regard. 

It will help us to decide the best way forward. Already since the start of the year I have been proud to announce new initiatives including extra free training for pre-school practitioners as well as the roll out of sensory and educational play resources to support inclusive practice in to pre-school settings.

Now I want to build on the progress AIM has made since its introduction and continue to fulfil my ambition of turning one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world into the best”.



Note to editors:

About the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)

AIM was launched in June 2016 to enable the full inclusion and meaningful participation of children with disabilities in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. The goal of AIM is to support pre-school settings to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can fully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of quality early years care and education. AIM is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the strengths and needs of the child and the pre-school setting. Supports provided under AIM include: the development of an inclusive culture; enhanced continuing professional development for pre-school practitioners; the provision of equipment, appliances and grants for minor alterations; access to therapeutic intervention and increased capitation for pre-school providers in the case of children with very complex needs.

About RSM Ireland

Established in 1987, RSM Ireland is a leading accountancy and business advisory firm in Ireland and is part of the RSM Global Network. The consortium being brought together for the purposes of this Review is led by RSM Ireland with associates from the School of Education in Trinity College, Dublin.