Additional funding for the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, T.D., recently announced that additional funding for the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) secured in Budget 2021 will be made available from January. AIM payments, which enable ECCE (free pre-school) providers to support inclusion of children by reducing the adult-child ratio within the pre-school room, will rise by 7% from €195 to €210 per week.
The Access and Inclusion Model supports the meaningful participation of children with disabilities in the ECCE programme. The ECCE State scheme, provides 2 years of free pre-school for children between 2 years 8 months and school entry. AIM includes seven levels of supports for children and the pre-school, one of which funds services either to reduce the number of children in the pre-school room or to buy in additional assistance to enable a lower adult-child ratio. This assistance is a shared resource for the pre-school room, ensuring children with a disability can participate, learn and socialise with their peers in an inclusive and supportive environment.
Since AIM was introduced in 2016, over 11,000 children have benefited from lower adult to child ratios. This AIM support generally allows 2 qualified early education practitioners to work with each group of 11 children. Tens of thousands more children have benefited from the other supports available through the AIM programme.
Minister O’Gorman welcomed the increase in funding stating:
“Every child should have access to high quality early learning and care. Through the award-winning Access and Inclusion Model, we can support children with disabilities in accessing mainstream pre-schools and help pre-schools recruit and retain qualified staff to support inclusion. This increase in funding is a clear sign of my Department’s commitment to continue fostering an inclusive culture, one where all children are supported in benefitting from early learning and care.”
The increased capitation will be paid to early learning and care services approved for AIM additional assistance support from the first week of January 2021. The 7% increase will align AIM capitation rates to current ECCE capitation rates, which were increased by 7% in September 2018.
For more information on the Access and Inclusion Model see www.aim.gov.ie
2021 Capital Programme
The funding available for the 2021 Capital Programme is €8.3million. The distribution of capital funding is determined on an annual basis, having regard to the needs of children, families and service providers, and Departmental priorities. The priority for the 2021 Capital Programme will be a fire safety capital grant.
Tulsa, the independent regulator of the sector, requires that providers submit a fire safety certificate as part of the statutory registration process. The Department is aware that while many services have already re-registered and submitted a fire safety certificate, some have re-registered subject to submitting an up to date Fire Safety Certificate in 2021. Some of these services may need to carry out remedial works to receive a Fire Safety Certificate. In recognition of the potential costs of remedial works, the Department will provide capital grants of between €1,000 and €10,000 to contribute to these costs under the 2021 Capital Programme.
Works which will be eligible for funding under the 2021 Capital Programme will include the following:
- Fire safety fit out costs, for example, installing fire alarm systems and fire protection measures such as escape routes; lighting, fire doors, fire proofing specific walls and floors; and escape stairways, with windows as secondary escape option;
- Fire safety equipment including smoke alarms, CO2 alarms, fire extinguishers, fire blankets; and
- Fire safety maintenance and replacement of key “fire risk appliances” such as electrical wiring and gas boilers.
To be eligible for funding, works must be identified as being required in a fire safety assessment report which has been completed since June 2019 by a competent person who is a registered architect, building surveyor or engineer. The fire safety assessment must be provided with the application for funding.
Pobal will administer the 2021 Capital Programme and will open an on-line application process in mid to late January, with a closing date in mid-February. Pobal will provide more information on the Programme in the coming weeks.
If you do not have a Fire Safety Certificate and intend to apply for a grant under the 2021 Capital Programme, please ensure that you have a fire safety assessment to support your application, by early February. The fire safety assessment may be dated at any time after 1 June 2019 – although, if material works have been carried out in your service since the fire safety assessment was obtained, you will have to provide an updated assessment.
If any of the €8.3million available for capital grants for early learning and care and school age services is not drawn down for fire safety works, the Department will distribute the balance by way of a second round of grants, which will focus on outdoor play. Further detail on this will be announced in early April 2021.