What is AIM
The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to promote inclusion and to ensure that children with disabilities can meaningfully participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) free pre-school programme in mainstream pre-school settings. AIM is a child-centred model, offering a range of universal and targeted supports. It offers tailored, practical supports based on need and does not require a formal diagnosis of disability.
AIM Universal Supports - promoting inclusive settings
Universal supports are designed to promote and support an inclusive culture within pre-school settings. Training to support inclusive practice is being rolled out for pre-school staff. Many settings now have a qualified Inclusion Coordinator. AIM Inclusive Play is a set of sensory and educational play resources. AIM Inclusive Play packs have been distributed to all ECCE-registered pre-school settings across Ireland for the use of all children registered on the ECCE programme.
AIM Targeted Supports
For many children, AIM universal supports will be sufficient to ensure inclusion. However, some children may require one or more further, specific supports to ensure that they can participate fully in the ECCE programme. These might take the form of specialist advice and support, specialist equipment or appliances, minor building alterations, therapeutic intervention or, in a small number of cases, extra assistance in the pre-school room. While AIM does not fund Special Needs Assistants (SNAs), in some cases funding may be provided either to reduce the child-to-adult ratio in the pre-school room or to fund an extra staff member as a shared resource with other children in the ECCE setting
How can I apply for AIM targeted supports?
Applications for AIM targeted supports can only be made through a pre-school setting. Pre-school settings and parents/guardians make applications together.
) or via the AIM online application form through the Programmes Implementation Platform (PIP), the IT system providers use for payments from Pobal.
To apply for specialised equipment, appliances or a grant towards minor alterations, preschool providers, in partnership with parents or guardians, should complete the relevant part of the online application form on PIP.
To apply for early years educational advice, therapy services or additional funding for extra support in the pre-school room, preschool providers, in partnership with parents or guardians, should complete the “Access and Inclusion Profile” on PIP. Applications will be assessed by Better Start, whose Early Years Specialists will consider the strengths and needs of both the child and the setting.
My child is starting ECCE and I have concerns they may need support under AIM - what should I do?
- Contact your preschool well ahead of your child's start date to ensure any additional supports can be made available as soon as possible.
My child's preschool has suggested my child will require AIM supports, I am not sure.
- It is definitely worth availing of any supports offered as anecdotally parents and providers are reporting that this support at an early age is making a huge difference to children's readiness to begin school when the time comes. It means that your child can be given help with any difficulties which they are having at the earliest possible opportunity and the results reported by parents so far have been very encouraging.