To date, more than 12,600 children have benefited from targeted supports under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM), in addition to the thousands of other children who have benefited from the universal elements of AIM. As well as the full reopening of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme from next week, AIM will also be available as normal to support access and meaningful participation in ECCE for children with disabilities. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs would like to thank, once again, the thousands of services who have worked hard to offer truly inclusive services to children with disabilities using the various AIM supports.
The AIM Rules for 2020/2021 are available from today on the AIM website. There are very few changes relative to the 2019/2020 rules, and all the changes (five in total) are presented in the attached Appendix. Most of the changes relate to the interaction of AIM and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) (discussed below), and there is also one change (to section 2.1 of the AIM Rules) to reflect the extension of the “saver” arrangements for CCSP and TEC beneficiaries.
The availability of the EWSS to registered providers of early learning and care and school-age childcare is expected to be a significant support over the coming months in helping service providers to meet the challenges of COVID-19. As you are aware, the EWSS provides wage subsidies for relevant staff members, including newly hired staff. As Level 7 of AIM (additional assistance in the pre-school room) also provides financial assistance that may be used to cover or subsidise the wages of specific staff members, it would not be appropriate for both schemes to subsidise the wages of the same staff member.
For this reason, with the introduction of EWSS, the 2020/2021 AIM Rules include a small number of updates in accordance with clause 7.17 of the ECCE 2020/21 Funding Agreement. The required updates to the AIM Rules are set out in the attached Appendix, Amendments to AIM rules for 2020/21 (Ref. Rules 3, 3.3, and 9.15).
The wages of an employee may be supported through either the EWSS or AIM Level 7 capitation, but not both. It is open to a service provider to choose whichever of EWSS or AIM Level 7 funding is most advantageous to them.
Accordingly, services approved for AIM Level 7 capitation are confirming to Pobal that they will not claim funding from the EWSS to support wages of any employee whose wages are covered or subsidised by AIM level 7 funding. In accordance with clause 8 of the ECCE 2020/21 Funding Agreement, services in receipt of AIM Level 7 capitation may be required to provide payroll details (with the personal data of the employee redacted to comply with GDPR requirements) during Pobal compliance checks.
The above rule update will be in place while service providers can avail of EWSS funding.
Please contact the Pobal AIM team or your local CCC if you have any queries regarding the above.
The Department thanks you for your continued support of children with disabilities.