Free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age. Participation in a preschool programme provides children with their first formal experience of early learning, the starting-point of their educational and social development outside the home. Children who avail of preschool are more likely to be ready for school and a formal learning and social environment.

From September 2016, children can participate in the ECCE scheme from 3 years of age and continue until they transfer to primary school (provided that they are not older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the pre-school year). This is an increase in the number of weeks than previously available on the ECCE scheme.

The total number of ECCE weeks a child can avail of will depend on:

  • the child’s birth date
  • the age at which the child begins primary school

Children are able to enrol in pre-school at 3 different points (September, January and April) in the school year in order to access the scheme. This is subject to there being a vacancy in your preferred early years setting.

Eligible age range

To avail of the ECCE programme, children must have been born between the following dates (both dates inclusive):

1st January 2012 – 31st March 2014
1st January 2013 – 31st August 2014
1st January 2013 – 31st December 2014
April 2017 – June 2017
September 2017 – June 2018
January 2018 – June 2018

Exceptions will be allowed where children have been assessed by the HSE, or a treating consultant, as having special needs which will delay their entry to school or it is appropriate to accept children at an older age due to the enrolment policy of the local primary school. In cases of exception written evidence will be required to support their application before a free place is provided. Parents are advised to apply for such exemptions from The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA).

How will the Pre-School Year be provided?

Children attending a preschool session will receive a preschool session for 3 hours per day, 5 days a week over 38 weeks. The weekly capitation fee in these cases will be €64.50.

Children attending full or part-time may apply to have the discount spread over 52 weeks.

Please contact Martina/Breda to book your child’s pre-school place or for further information