On the 18th November, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly, T.D., together with Jan O’Sullivan, TD, Minister for Education and Skills, and Kathleen Lynch, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health, launched a major, new model to support access to the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme for children with a disability.
The model involves seven levels of progressive support to enable the full inclusion and meaningful participation of children with disabilities in the ECCE setting. These supports, which move from universal to highly targeted based on the needs of the child, include: the development of an inclusive culture; enhanced continuing professional development for early years practitioners; grants for equipment, appliances and minor alterations; access to therapeutic intervention and increased capitation for children with very complex needs. Implementation oversight structures have been established.
These include a Cross-Sectoral Implementation Group, chaired at Assistant Secretary level, a Cross-Sectoral Project Team, chaired at PO level and several supporting working groups.
It is accepted that full implementation of the new model will take time due to the need to build capacity within the early years sector. However, the planned front-loading and on-going investment will result in all children with a disability having their pre-school needs met at some level for those enrolling in September 2016.
To this end, planning is underway to ensure that, with effect from June 2016, sufficient elements of the model will be in place to allow parents and service providers to plan for enrolment in September 2016.
In the meantime, for information in relation to childcare services, please contact your local City and County Childcare Committee at this link
For copy of the Report of the Interdepartmental Group – Supporting Access to the Early Intervention Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme for Children with a Disability, click here