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A Better Start for Better Start AIM Early Years Specialists 

Better Start today (Wednesday 10 May 2017) announced that all of its AIM (Access & Inclusion Model) Early Year Specialists are to undertake the Leadership in Inclusion in the Early Years (LINC) Programme.
Better Start Quality Development Service is a national initiative established by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) to bring an integrated national approach to developing quality in Early Years Education and Care (ECEC) for children aged from birth to six years in Ireland. It coordinates and extends the wide-ranging choice of supports and services already provided through City and County Childcare Committees and Voluntary Childcare Organisations.
LINC, established in 2016, is a Level 6 Special Purpose Award (Higher Education) designed to enhance inclusion of children with additional needs in early years’ settings through the development of the role of Inclusion Coordinator. The programme, offered by a consortium led by Mary Immaculate College and including Early Childhood Ireland and The Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, Maynooth University, is part of a government commitment to the provision of high quality education and training in the field of early childhood care and education and was introduced as part of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) in 2016. Nearly concluding its first year, LINC has been in huge demand from practitioners, with more than 2,700 applications for the 1800 places (900 in 2016/17 and 900 shortly to be filled for 2017/18).
Speaking on the announcement Margaret Rogers, National Manager with Better Start said “We felt that, in order to ensure consistency across the sector, it is important that both practitioners and the Better Start EYS team use a shared knowledge base in order to build a consistent practice for all ECCE services. We are delighted to be able to access the LINC Programme as a part of continuing professional development for our early years’ specialists”.
While Fintan Breen, LINC National Programme Coordinator said “We are delighted to be able to share LINC further within the sector and to be able to tailor this programme so that it suits the needs of Better Start Better Start AIM Early Years Specialists. We are delighted with the success of LINC to date and with the numbers of applications from practitioners. Including the Better Start AIM Early Year Specialists as well as the 900 practitioners each year will ensure the dissemination of the knowledge and the implementation of good practice in including children with additional needs across the sector.”
The programme, which will be customised for the specialists’ role and funded from existing training & development funds within Better Start, will facilitate a shared understanding of the approach and ensure consistency across the sector. It is expected that by undertaking this programme, it will assist the EYS team to support Inclusion Coordinators in transferring knowledge to practice and ensure consistency in creating inclusive environments in their settings. It is also important that they can support settings who do not yet have a LINC trained Inclusion Coordinator in place.
Further information on LINC programme available www.lincprogramme.ie

Editors’ Note:

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, is a multi-campus institution offering 9 undergraduate degree programmes in Education and the Liberal Arts, as well as a wide range of Continuing Professional Development offerings for teachers and numerous postgraduate opportunities to Masters and PhD level.

Early Childhood Ireland, is the representative and support body for early education and care in Ireland.  It has over 3,500 childcare members who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool and full daycare provision nationwide.  Its work includes quality enhancement, publications, advocacy, training, business support and information for a sector that employs 25,000 people today.

The Froebel Department of Primary & Early Childhood Education, Maynooth University specialises in teacher education for primary school teachers and educators working in early childhood settings. Based on the principles of the philosopher Friedrich Froebel, the department aspires towards the provision of a distinctive student-centred environment underpinned by values of care and respect for the student, active, experiencial learning and the holistic development of the person through all their undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.