The Free Preschool Year Scheme (ECCE)

The ECCE scheme is available to all children in the year before they start school. Every child can have access to a free preschool place, there are no extra charges except where a preschool provides extra lessons or activities, but parents do not have to avail of these extras if they do not want to.

There are two different options for the free preschool year:

Sessional preschool – where your child attends the preschool for 3 hours a day (this can be in the morning or in the afternoon), five days a week for 38 weeks a year (roughly in line with the primary school calendar).

As part of full day care – if your child is already in full day childcare, they are entitled to 2 hours 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 50 weeks of the year free preschool and your full day care costs should be reduced accordingly.

Only children who are between 3 years 2 months and 4 years 7 months on the 1st September each year can access the ECCE scheme. If you are unsure as to when your child can start their free preschool year, check on our ECCE calculator.

Exemptions to the age eligibility

The upper age limit of the scheme can be extended if a child has additional needs and would benefit from starting school at a later stage, or if the primary school’s enrolment policy states that a child cannot start before they are 5 years 6 months. In both cases, exemption needs to be sought from the Department of Children – please contact us for further details.