AIM Access and Inclusion Model

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. Its goal is to empower service providers 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 needs of the child and the service provider. For many children, the universal supports offered under the model will be sufficient. For others, one particular discrete support may be required to enable participation in pre-school, such as access to a piece of specialised equipment. For a small number, a suite of different services and supports may be necessary. In other words, the model is designed to be responsive to the needs of each individual child in the context of their pre-school setting. It will offer tailored, practical supports based on need and will not require a formal diagnosis of disability.

For detailed information on AIM see

What are the 7 Levels of Support?

Level 1: An Inclusive Culture:

AIM_LogoThis level is the critical foundation for the model. This sets out that a strong culture of inclusion must be fostered and embedded to support all children’s maximum participation in the ECCE Programme. Recommendations include the development of a national inclusion policy for ECCE, the identification of an Inclusion Co-ordinator in each ECCE setting, funding being made available to provide training in inclusion for these and other early years practitioners, and a small increase in capitation for ECCE settings who meet certain criteria to incentivise fully inclusive practice.

Level 2: Information for Parents and Providers:

This level recognises the requirement of parents and providers to have clear, consistent and up to date information accessible to them regarding ECCE services and supports. Recommendations include the development of a national website which is linked from all relevant children’s services and the development of information packs which can be provided at local level.

Level 3: A Qualified and Confident Workforce:

This level recognises the requirement to continue to develop a qualified workforce that can confidently meet the needs of all children wishing to participate in the ECCE Programme. It supports the recommendation from the IDG on Future Investment in Early Years and School Aged (Including After-School and Out-of-School) Care and Education to continue to raise the minimum qualification for employment in the sector. It also seeks dedicated funding for formal and informal training and a structure to be put in place to ensure same.

Level 4: Expert Educational Advice and Support:

This level addresses the needs of early years practitioners across the country to have timely access to advice and support from experts in early years education (and disability in particular) to assist them meet each child’s needs. It recommends an enhancement of the Better Start Early Years Specialist Service (EYSS) that was established in 2014.

Level 5: Equipment, Appliances and Minor Alterations Capital Grant:

This level recognises that some children require specialised equipment, appliances, assistive technology and/or that some ECCE settings may require minor structural alterations to ensure children with a disability can participate in the ECCE Programme. It recommends the provision of annual funding, the establishment of a grant and an application process to access these supports.

Level 6: Therapeutic Intervention:

This level provides for access to therapeutic services where they are critical to enable the child be enrolled, and fully participate, in the ECCE Programme. It recommends further enhancement of HSE Therapy Services to enable priority be given to this important aspect of early intervention.

Level 7: Additional Assistance in the Pre-School Room:

This level recognises that a small number of children (approximately 1.0% – 1.5% of those availing of the ECCE Programme) will require more support than is available through Levels 1-6. The IDG recommends the provision of additional capitation to providers where an application process has demonstrated that supports Level 1-6 have not, or will not, by themselves, meet the child’s needs. The additional capitation will be agreed with the provider and parent. It can be used by the provider to buy in additional support, to reduce the staff / child ratio, or for other specified purposes, all centred on supporting the pre-school leader to ensure the child’s optimal participation.




AIM Brochure


FAQ document in relation to the increased ECCE capitation

READ FAQ’s asked to TUSLA


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