End of Three Year Evaluation of the Access and Inclusion Model: Research and Technical Report

Report


Robinson, D., Gowers, S., Codina, G., Delgado-Fuentes, M., Mycock, K., Qureshi, S. and Shepherd, R. 2024. End of Three Year Evaluation of the Access and Inclusion Model: Research and Technical Report. Dublin Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth .
AuthorsRobinson, D., Gowers, S., Codina, G., Delgado-Fuentes, M., Mycock, K., Qureshi, S. and Shepherd, R.
Abstract

This research was commissioned by the Government of Ireland's Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY). Its purpose was to investigate the implementation and impact of the high profile Access and Inclusion Model on the full inclusion and meaningful participation of children with disabilities in Ireland's state-funded programme of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). The ECCE programme is free to all children who have turned 2 years and 8 months of age before 1 September. They can continue until they transfer to primary school as long they do not reach 5 years and 6 months on or before 30 June of the programme year. The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) provides universal (e.g. state-funded professional development), and targeted (e.g. specialist equipment and additional staff) support to ensure that children with disabilities can be fully included and participate meaningfully in the ECCE programme. The research applied mixed methods, including a survey of ECCE providers (n=732) and parents/carers (n=1157); multi-modal interviews of 79 people (AIM deliverers, parents/carers and ECCE providers), and innovative case studies of pre-schools and children who were being supported by AIM. The findings show that AIM has enabled many young children with disabilities to attend, be fully included and meaningfully participate in the ECCE programme in mainstream pre-schools. AIM has catalysed the development of more inclusive cultures and practices in pre-schools and developed the confidence of the workforce in their capacity to include children with disabilities. Though the picture is positive overall, participants perceive some variability in impact according to types of disability and location. The evaluation has also identified areas where the model can improve. For example, though AIM was benefiting the majority of children supported by it, benefits were less likely to be reported by parents/carers of children with less visible disabilities (particularly autism) and there is evidence that more attention to CPD focussed on psychosocial disabilities is needed. However, there is every reason to believe that AIM will continue to be effective as a model for enabling inclusion in mainstream pre-schools in a context where there is continuous, cross-sectoral improvement.

KeywordsInclusion; Disability; Special Educational Needs; National Policy; Ireland; Early Education; Preschools
Year2024
PublisherDepartment of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Place of publicationDublin
Page range1-589
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All rights reserved
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Output statusPublished
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OnlineJan 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted21 Jul 2023
Deposited29 Sep 2023
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