The Early Childhood Care & Education Scheme (ECCE) is a government funded scheme which provides one year of free preschool education to every child in Ireland aged between 3 years and 3 months and 4 years 6 months on 1st September each year. This is a universal scheme which all eligible children can avail of during a significant development period in their life.
What is the free Preschool Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)?
The ECCE programme is designed to give children access to a free preschool year of appropriate programme-based activities in the year before they start primary school. 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. In general, each eligible child is entitled to one free preschool year. Certain children with special needs may avail of a pro-rata provision over two years, provided they fulfil certain conditions
When will my child be eligible to participate in the ECCE scheme?
In general, children are eligible for the ECCE scheme if they are aged between 3 years 2 months and 4 years 7 months on 1 September of the year that they will be starting.
From September 2016, the ECCE scheme will be extended to children aged between 3 years and 5 years 6 months, or until they start primary school. This increases the number of weeks available on the ECCE scheme. Children will be able to enroll in pre-school at 3 different points in the year (September, January and April) in order to access the scheme.
How can I enroll my child for the free preschool year?
Please call Budding Explorers to enroll for September or to transfer during the year.
How is the Preschool Year funded?
Preschool services participating in the programme are paid a capitation fee for each qualifying child enrolled. You will be asked by the preschool service to complete a form which includes your child’s date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). You will also be asked to provide documentary evidence of these details (a copy of the child’s birth certificate and a copy of official proof of the child’s PPSN e.g. a Drug Repayment Scheme card, a Medical Card, or a letter from the Department of Social Protection). In return, the service is required to provide an appropriate programme of activities in early childhood care and education free to parents.
How will the Preschool Year be provided?
At Budding Explorers children will receive preschool year sessions for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, over 38 weeks (September to June).
Will parents have to pay additional charges in respect of the Preschool Year?
No additional charges will apply for the preschool sessions.
Síolta and Aistear
As part of the scheme preschool providers are required to follow Síolta and Aistear which are the National Frameworks for Early Learning. Detailed information can be found at siolta.ie and ncca.ie/earlychildhood framework.