Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
143. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the extent to which children with disabilities can expect to receive adequate care and attention and access to services now and in the future; the degree to which his Department has identified issues of interest in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59736/21]
My Department provides services to children with disabilities through the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM). AIM is a programme of supports designed to enable children with a disability to access and meaningfully participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. The goal of AIM is to create a more inclusive environment in pre-schools, so all children, regardless of ability, can benefit from quality early learning and care. The model achieves this by providing universal supports to pre-school settings, and targeted supports, which focus on the needs of the individual child, without requiring a diagnosis of disability. Since its beginning in 2016, there has been 18,521 children in 3,871 settings who received targeted supports under AIM. This does not include the many more children and services that have benefited from the universal supports funded through the AIM scheme.
In addition to the specific services my Department delivers for children with disabilities, my Department co-ordinates the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) which is whole-of-government strategy for policy and action to address the needs of persons with disabilities in Ireland and support effective progress in delivering on the obligations set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). My colleague, Minister of State Anne Rabbitte T.D., chairs the NDIS Steering Group and one of the focuses of that Strategy, alongside the Comprehensive Employment Strategy, is improving transitions across state services, including for children. My Department is also developing a UNCRPD Implementation Plan and this will be finalised in 2022.
In November of this year Ireland submitted its first State Report to the UN Committee on CRPD. As part of preparations for this and other UN processes such as the UNCRC and the Universal Periodic Review, a specific consultation was held with children with disabilities, to ensure their voice was heard.