Tuesday, 4 July 2017
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
38. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if training or upskilling is provided to persons working with children on the autism spectrum in preschool settings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30781/17]
Yes – there is training and upskilling provided. In addition to affordability and quality – our radical new approach to childcare must also ensure accessibility. I am fully and absolutely committed to that. One of my first official duties as Minister was to launch the Access Inclusion Model or AIM. The model supports children with disabilities to attend main-stream pre-school education. This includes children on the autism spectrum.
AIM is comprehensive – it offers seven levels of progressive support. The degree of support provided depends on the needs of the child in the context of the pre-school which they are attending. The levels range from a new Inclusion Charter for all pre-schools, to support for equipment and upgrades, as well as training. Indeed one of the great successes of AIM has been the huge interest in a newly developed Higher Education Programme in Leadership for Inclusion in Early Years Settings – known as LINC. In the 2017-2018 year I can confirm that 978 people will take part in this leadership programme.
I met some of the 850 students currently taking part in the programme and due to graduate this Autumn when I recently attended the conference of Early Childhood Ireland. They are passionate about their work and about offering the best possible service to all children.
Looking to the future, my Department and I are determined to further improve accessibility. We have established a new Training Working Group to develop further courses under AIM Level 3. This will not be a long process. I would expect its recommendations will include further assistance for early years practitioners working with children with autism. There is a website where the information is set out