Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) scheme

The ECCE scheme was introduced in January 2010 and provides a universal FREE pre-school year in the year before children start primary school. The scheme is open to all parents of eligible children.

When are children eligible?

Children aged between 3 years, 2 months and 4 years, 7 months on the 1st of September each year are eligible for a place for one year.

If you wish to check the eligibility of a child, we have an ECCE calculator– the easy way to check.

Children born between 02 February and 30 June in any year will be eligible to start in two separate years. In this case the parents are free to choose which year to avail of the scheme but they are still only eligible for one year.

There are some exemptions to the age range – children with special needs.

How does it work?

If you are not part of the ECCE (free preschool scheme) contact us for application details

Once you are in contract with the Dept.of Children you will be paid a fixed capitation rate for every ECCE child that attends your service.

At the present time the capitation rates are as follows:

  • Preschool session – 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, 38 weeks a year €64.50
  • As part of a full day care service – 2 hours 15 mins a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year €48.50
  • Other capitation rates may apply, contact us for details

Additional activities and charges

You must provide the preschool session free of charge. The capitation you are paid by the Government is to cover everything that is required to provide a preschool session to an individual child, you cannot ask parent s to supplement, top up or cover any perceived shortfall. If you wish to offer extra activities, they must be optional and should be carried out after the preschool session, that way no child who is not participating in the optional activity is made to feel left out.

The fees that you charge in your service form part of your contractual obligations with the Department of Children, you will be asked to sign a form itemising your charges and your fees will have to be approved by the Dept. The fee policy will form part of the verification process and failure to implement the fee policy correctly could be deemed as a breach of contract.

Please contact us to discuss your fee policy

Children with special needs

Children who have been assessed by the HSE or a treating Consultant as having Special Needs which will delay their entry to school may be entitled to the free pre-school scheme split over a two year period e.g. two days a week in year one and three days a week in year two or it may be more beneficial for a child with additional needs to access the free preschool year at an older age e.g. at 5 or 6.

If you think that this applies to a child intending to attend or already attending your service, talk to the parents about it and they can then apply directly to the Deptartment of Children for an exemption. Contact us for further details.

Transferring between services

Children can move between one preschool and another during their free preschool year, however the capitation is only paid from the beginning of a term, so if a child leaves your service mid-term, you will not be required to pay back the capitation and the child will not be eligible for the capitation payment in the new service until the next term. Any parent wishing to transfer their child must fill in a form and have it signed by the exisiting and the potential services. Please contact us for further details.

ECCE and CCS Information (by Language)

Our colleagues in Clare and Waterford County produced some prompts for parents in a variety of different languages. Please feel free to download as required.