Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme
The Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) provides two free years of early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age which can help prepare your child for starting primary school. Children are eligible for the ECCE programme if they have turned 2 years and 8 months of age before 1 September in any given year. They can continue until they transfer to primary school as long they won’t turn 5 years and 6 months on or before 30 June of the programme year. If you are not sure when your child will be eligible you can check the calendar here.
The scheme means that those childcare providers, which offer the ECCE scheme, are funded by the State to provide free childcare and education for a certain number of hours over a set number of weeks. The usual number of hours provided in a participating pre-school or day-care centre amounts to 3 hours a day, five days a week, over a 38 week period. If your child attends for a longer day, then the cost must be met by the parent.
Childcare services taking part in the ECCE scheme must provide an appropriate pre-school educational programme which adheres to the principles of the national framework for early years care and education, known as Síolta. For information on childcare providers in your area and information on finding an ECCE place for your child then contact your local City or County Childcare Committee.