Irish Autism Action, support, information and advice
Supporting Access to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme for Children with a Disability.
Irish Autism Action welcomes the announcement yesterday that children with special needs can access supports to avail of the ECCE year in a mainstream preschool. We have advocatedat for this for several years as so many of our families have had difficulty putting supports in place in the past and have not been able to avail of the free preschool year. The creation of autism friendly preschool settings is at the centre of our partnership programme with Early Childhood Ireland. The scheme will start in September 2016. The full announcement is available here.
Reaction from Teresa Heeney CEO of Early Childhood Ireland to IDG report.
“This plan and investment announced for children with additional needs at pre-school level is long overdue. On first glance of this interdepartmental group report today presented by Ministers Reilly, O’Sullivan and Lynch, we are quietly confident that the government has analysed the need, and is willing to make the investment required. "
“What we need now is testing, implementation and follow through on all the aspirations."
“What we do know is that the earlier the better for children with additional needs in terms of diagnosis and support. Furthermore, investing early saves money and stress down the line on their educational journey. So it makes sense morally, socially, medically, educationally and financially to support the children who need it most. "
“The issue of inclusion of children with additional needs is high on the agenda for our members, with 74% of crèches and preschools across the country supporting one or more children with additional needs today (according to our most recent survey) and 53% have 3 or more children with additional needs. "
“When analysing the research we have in the area, it is important to note that the average waiting time for an assessment/diagnosis is 12 months to 18 months; so in the majority of cases, our members are trying to support children without a diagnosis to guide them and that waiting period must be addressed as a matter of urgency."
“What is missing from the government’s approach is an acknowledgment that the early childhood educators charged with looking after our children are paid less than a living wage. Their pay and conditions do not meet the expectations of the job and the focus today on better qualifications, more training etc. must be backed up by a further analysis by this government of capacity in the sector, as well as a programme for recruiting and retaining the best people in this sector.”