The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme provide a free year of early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age. Children are eligible for the ECCE scheme from September 2015 to June 2016,  if born between the 2nd of February 2011 and 30th of June 2012. The upper age limit can be extended in some cases.

The Dept. of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) pays a capitation fee to participate early years services. In return, they provide a pre-school service free of charge to all children within the qualifying age range for a set number of hours over a set period of weeks.

Children qualify for ECCE in one school year. However, a child who has been assessed as having additional needs may be able to split their ECCE year over 2 years on a pro rata basis.

ECCE Information for Parents

To join the ECCE programme from September 2015 to June 2016 a child must be born between the 02/02/11 and 30/06/12. To avail of the programme you must book a place for your child in a service approved to deliver the ECCE Scheme. ECCE provides your child can with 3 hours free early years care and education, five days a week,  for 38 weeks between September and June. In-sessional services (operating for up to 3.5hrs per day) fees for extra time or activities must be offered to you on an optional basis. If you wish to avail of the service for three hours in total the early years service will advise you of the specific ECCE session time.

From September 2016, the ECCE will expand to allow children from the age of 3 years of age avail of free preschool care until they go to school. Terms and conditions apply. Please see Budget 2016 Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

ECCE Information for Early Years Services

Services are now able to register ECCE children on PIP for the ECCE year 2015 -2016. ECCE Calendar to see when children are eligibe for the ECCE programme.