AIM Information for Parents

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a programme of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme in mainstream pre-school settings and can participate fully in the pre-school curriculum alongside their peers.

AIM is a child centred model of supports, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the service provider. 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.

AIM -  Resources for Parents of Children with Additional Needs

The following is a list of resources, useful websites, and videos to support you with Children with Additional Needs. 

Useful Websites


Support Groups for Parents


Online Parents Plus Training for Parents supporting a Child with Special Needs

You Tube Videos

Two Video Pieces Compiled Specifically for Parents of children in the South Dublin Area who are accessing AIM Pre-school Supports. 

Their motive is to support children (& families) who find the new experiences in the pre-school setting to be particularly challenging.  They offer assistance from the perspective of communication and motor and sensory needs of the young developing child.

The presenters are 2 therapists with extensive experience working with children with Additional Needs: (Olive Buckeridge – Senior Speech & Language Therapist, Ellie Forsyth – Senior Occupational Therapist)

Principal objectives

  • To assist parents in reflecting on all that they have learnt about their child & the aspects of that knowledge that should be shared with his/her pre-school provider to ensure the maximum benefit and enjoyment of the pre-school years
  • To give you a range of practical tips on how you can hone in on your child’s specific support needs, and to assist in the communication with Early Years professionals supporting your child
  • As a support in prompting communication between you, as parents and the childcare provider


Speech & Language Therapist (Olive Buckeridge)


Occupational Therapist Support Video (Ellie Forsyth)


Lastly, we would be happy for any feedback on support needs or any benefits that you have found from the above information!  As parents, you have been greatly challenged by the circumstances this year.  Take pride in all that you’ve done to support your child.



Levels 1 – 3 of the model involve a suite of universal supports which are designed to promote and support an inclusive culture within pre-school settings by means of a variety of educational and capacity-building initiatives for providers and practitioners. International evidence suggests that these supports, when appropriately developed, are sufficient to support many children with disabilities.

However, where a service provider, in partnership with a parent, considers that some further additional support may be necessary to meet the needs of a particular child, they can apply for one or more targeted supports under levels 4 – 7 of the model.

Finally, the model applies to all mainstream pre-school settings which are funded through the ECCE programme. In addition to mainstream settings, pre-school services are also offered in special pre-schools and early intervention classes which cater exclusively for children with disabilities.  While the underlying vision of the new model is to cater for as many children as possible in mainstream settings, it is recognised that a small number of children will continue to need specialised services.

Targeted Supports under AIM

A range of targeted supports are available under levels 4 – 7 of the Access and Inclusion Model.

Level 4: Expert Educational Advice and Support

Under level 4, service providers can access a national service where specialists in early years care and education for children with disabilities can provide expert advice, mentoring and support. To avail of this support, service providers, in partnership with parents, will be asked to complete an online Access and Inclusion Profile.  This will look at the strengths, abilities and needs of the child, as well as the strengths and needs of the pre-school setting.  The profile will allow the Early Years Specialist to identify what, if any, additional supports might be required to enable the child’s full participation in pre-school. 

Your service provider will have contact details for the Early Years Specialist Service and will be able to contact them as needed.

Level 5: Equipment, Appliances and Minor Alterations

Under level 5, a national scheme is available to provide specialised equipment, appliances or capital grants towards minor building alterations, where these are necessary to support access and facilitate a child’s participation in pre-school. Applications for this scheme should be made by a service provider, in partnership with a parent. 

In all cases, a short report from a “designated professional” is required confirming that the specialised equipment or minor building alterations are necessary. Once an application for equipment is approved, this will be sourced by Pobal and delivered directly to the child’s pre-school setting.  Training in the use of the equipment will also be provided.  Where an application for minor building alterations is approved, a capital grant towards the cost of these alterations will be made available to the service provider.

Level 6: Therapy Services

Therapy services which are considered critical for a child’s participation in the Early Childhood Care and Education programme will be made available. Arrangements are in place with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to deliver this service and a number of additional therapy posts have been funded under the Access and Inclusion Model to support this service provision.

To avail of level 6 support, service providers, in partnership with parents, should complete the online Access and Inclusion Profile. The Early Years Specialist Service (Access and Inclusion) will review the profile and, where therapeutic input is likely to be required, they will initiate contact with the HSE.  It should be noted that this support is limited to therapeutic interventions which are critical to a child’s participation in the ECCE programme. 

Level 7: Additional Capitation

Where the above supports are not sufficient to meet the needs of the child, service providers, in partnership with parents, can apply for additional capitation to fund extra support in the classroom or to enable the reduction of the staff to child ratio.

Applications for level 7 additional capitation should be made by the service provider, in partnership with the parent, by completing the Access and Inclusion Profile and, within that profile, the level 7 service request. Following this, an Early Years Specialist (Access and Inclusion) will be in contact with the service provider to progress the application. 

For further information on all the Levels of support offered by AIM go to