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Budget 2016 Frequently Asked Questions

Budget 2016 Frequently Asked Questions

Budget 2016 Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions relating to issues arising from the Government’s Budget in the area of early years education and care. We have compiled this from information gleaned from the Budget speech, press releases by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and other sources.

While we have tried to provide the most accurate information that we can, we may have erred and we would be delighted if you would get in touch if you spot anything that you suspect might not be accurate! There is also much that still needs to be clarified. We are seeking further information on particular aspects, and there are other matters that will be the subject of much work over the coming months to guide the developments heralded in the Budget.

The changes to the ECCE scheme resulting from Budget 2016 will take effect from September 2016.

  • Contact your local County Childcare Committee (CCC) to see what services currently exist in your area and the types of services offered.
  • Check the latest Central Statistics Office(CSO) statistics for your area to                find out the age of the local population.

If a child is eligible for the ECCE (“Free Pre-School Year”) under the current rules (i.e. if the child was born between 2nd Feb 2011 and 30th June 2012), but did not take up their place, then that child may NOW be able to avail of Free Preschool if places are available in the area.

The child may be eligible to continue in the scheme in September 2016 (assuming they are younger than 5 years and 6 months at the end of June 2017).

If a child is eligible for ECCE under the current rules AND parent(s) have been paying for a preschool place since September, they may now be able to avail of Free Preschool AND be entitled to a pro-rata refund for the weeks they have already paid for.

To apply for a refund, childcare providers need to act fast. The provider has 8 weeks from the start of September to enrol a child in the scheme. That means time is running out. The childcare provider needs to register a child for ECCE from the 1st of September on the PIP system. The provider can then pass the refund on to the parent(s).

Under the ECCE extension the total number of weeks a child is entitled to will depend on their date of birth. 

This table (from DCYA) sets out the average number of weeks preschool according to the child’s date of birth:


For example a child turning 3 in January 2017 would be entitled to 88 weeks in total, if they start school at the age of 5. This would be broken down as follows:

April 20 17 to June 2017: 12 weeks
September 2017 to June 2018: 38 weeks
September 2018 to June 2019: 38 weeks

A child is entitled to avail of their free preschool entitlement on a part-time basis. 

However, if a child is only attending for part-time hours the service will only be funded part-time.

Therefore, this arrangement may not be financially viable for the service, so it will be at the service’s discretion as to whether they can accommodate a request for part-time provision.

The new system for rolling enrolment for ECCE poses considerable challenges for the sector.  Childcare providers need to start planning for enrolment in the ECCE at three points in the year.  There is considerable work to be undertaken at a national level to guide and support providers in this transition to the new rolling enrolment system, and Early Childhood Ireland will actively pursue this issue with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs over the coming period. 

No.  The ratio of 1 to 11 applies for all children between the ages of 2 years 6 months and 6 years so the ratios will remain the same in spite of the earlier age of entry into the scheme.

An Audit Tool will be designed in the coming months.

It is expected the Audits of quality will take place every three years.

The audits will be a separate process to the inspections. The funding allocated to inspections will allow for an expanded team which will monitor compliance and continue the education-focused inspections DCYA began this year. 

A number of matters have been brought to our attention already which need clarification, including:

  • Who is developing the audit tool and how the sector will be consulted on its design. 
  • Who will be undertaking the audit. 

Every service can apply to participation in an Inclusion Training programme. This programme will be certified at HETAC Level 6 and is currently being designed. It is expected to be available in early 2016.


Having completed this training, a service can notify as an ‘inclusive setting’, i.e. at level 1 above, and appoint a member of staff to the role of Inclusion Co-ordinator.

For services that have an inclusion co-ordinator (someone working in the service who has undertaken the training) and that gain approval, it is envisaged that a higher capitation will be payable to the service.


The report is due to be published within the next few weeks.

Early Childhood Ireland is intending to put the issues of commercial rates, planning permission and capital funding back on the table in our discussions with the DCYA.

A €3 million capital fund will support childcare providers (both community/not-for-profit and private) who need minor funding to develop after-school services using existing school and other accessible community facilities.

We are still seeking clarification from the DCYA as to what constitutes an accessible community setting i.e. what type of provider will be able to avail of the capital allocation.   

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