EDUCATION: A major new programme aimed at providing supports to children with disabilities in pre-school will commence in September this year.
The model of supports has secured a Government investment of €17m in 2016, rising to €40m annually from 2020. It is expected that Donegal’s 145 early childhood services will engage with the new scheme which will take in the region of 3 years to implement fully.
Avril McMonagle, Manager of Donegal County Childcare, comments that this development is hugely positive and long overdue.
“We have been calling for additional dedicated supports for children with disabilities to access the free Early Childhood Care and Education programme since its launch over six years ago.
“Finally, we have a support model to help overcome the barriers that so many children have experienced in getting access to a high quality, fully inclusive mainstream pre-school provision in Donegal’
“A positive feature of the new Access and Inclusion Model is that it does not depend on children having a formal diagnosis to access supports to attend pre-school. Instead it focuses on children’s unique developmental level, their abilities and their needs.”
The seven levels of supports within the model range from universal supports to highly targeted supports, based on the needs of the individual child.
The model includes funded training opportunities for early childhood educators; grants for specialised equipment, appliances and minor alterations, increased funding capitation for children with complex needs, as well as access to therapeutic early intervention.
Donegal County Childcare are facilitating 3 information sessions in Inis Eoghain, Letterkenny and Donegal Town to inform parents and childcare providers about the new model and how to access supports from September 2016.