Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)

The Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access and meaningfully participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme.  Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can meaningfully participate in the ECCE Programme and reap the benefits of quality Early Learning and Care.

The model is designed to be responsive to the needs of each individual child in the context of their pre-school setting. It offers tailored, practical supports based on need and does not require a formal diagnosis of a disability.

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 pre-school service. There are 7 levels of support available through AIM ranging from universal supports to targeted supports.

Universal Support includes Levels 1-3 of the AIM model and are designed to promote and support an inclusive culture within pre-school settings. However, where a service provider, in partnership with a parent/guardian, 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.

Further detailed information for parents/guardians, including levels of support and frequently asked questions in relation to the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM), can be found online at:

For more information on the ECCE Programme re AIM supports contact Wicklow CCC or the Early Learning and Care service your child attends.  See also the training section on our website for upcoming AIM Information talks for Parents & Guardians.

Levels 1 – 3 Universal Supports

Universal supports are designed to promote and support an inclusive culture within pre-school settings by means of a variety of educational and capacity-building initiatives. Specifically:

  • A new Inclusion Charter has been developed for the pre-school sector. This tool supports services in developing their own Inclusion Policy.  The Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Charter and Guidelines can be accessed here.
  • A new higher education programme, “Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years” which commence in 2016.Pre-school settings employing a LINC graduate will attract an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting.
  • A broad multi-annual programme of formal and informal training for pre-school staff in relation to disability and inclusion. Which will be funded by the DCEDIY and facilitated by local CCC’s.

Levels 4 – 7 Targeted Supports

Targeted Supports (Levels 4 – 7 of the Access and Inclusion Model) A pre-school provider, in partnership with a parent or guardian, may consider that some additional support may be necessary to meet the needs of a particular child, they can apply for one or more of the following targeted supports:
  • Expert advice, mentoring and support is available from a team of early years specialists in early years care and education for children with disabilities. Who are based in the Better Start National Early Years Quality Development Service.
  • A scheme is available for the provision of specialised equipment, appliances and grants towards minor building alterations which are necessary to support a child’s participation in the ECCE Programme.
  • Therapy services, which are critical to a child’s participation in the ECCE Programme, are available through AIM and will be provided by the HSE.