Social inclusion of children with disabilities "key" to their wellbeing, care and education 1 month ago

Social inclusion of children with disabilities "key" to their wellbeing, care and education

New research is aimed at facilitating "the full participation of children with disabilities in early learning and care".

The social inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood is key to their wellbeing, care and later education, research has found.

The research, published by the ESRI and Pobal, examined the challenges faced by children with disabilities in accessing early learning and school age care and education.

Researchers sought to examine the future needs and requirements of children with disabilities using data from the Census of Population and Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) study.

They said that measuring disability among the children of Ireland is a “complex task,” with different datasets typically adopting different classifications of disabilities.

In the last census (2016), 4.5 per cent of kids aged three to five were reported as having a disability.

0.6 per cent of three-to-five year olds had a serious vision impairment, blindness, a serious hearing impairment or deafness.

2.3 per cent had a physical disability or limitation, 2.6 per cent had an intellectual disability, and one per cent had a psychological or emotional condition.

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Nearly 3 per cent of children the same age were reported as having a disability classified as “other”, not covered by the aforementioned disabilities.

The report found that the number of children receiving assistance from the Access and Inclusion Model (Aim) has been rapidly increasing since it was first introduced in 2016.

This model is designed to support children with disabilities participating in the ECCE pre-school programme.

The research states that demographic projections predict a decrease in childhood disability in Ireland by 2030. This is due to falling fertility rates.

Dr Adele Whelan of the ESRI said: “It is critical that we have accurate information on the current and future rates of disability among young children, both at a national and county-level, to allow for planning that can facilitate the full participation of children with disabilities in early learning and care.

“This research highlights the complexity associated with measuring childhood disability and the importance of accounting for demographic factors in planning for future provision.”