Your Child’s ECCE Free Pre-School Year

The ECCE is a scheme 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.

Your Child’s ECCE Free Pre-School Year

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides early childhood care and education
for children of pre-school age. 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.

From September 2016, children can participate in the ECCE scheme from 3 years of age and continue until they transfer to primary school (provided that they are not older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the pre-school year). This is an increase in the number of weeks than previously available on the ECCE scheme.

The total number of ECCE weeks a child can avail of will depend on:

  • the child’s birth date
  • the age at which the child begins primary school 

Children are able to enrol in pre-school at 3 different points (September, January and April) in the school year in order to access the scheme. This is subject to there being a vacancy in your preferred early years setting.

Eligible age range

To avail of the ECCE programme from: Children must have been born between the following dates (both dates inclusive)
April 2017 – June 2017 1st January 2012 – 31st March 2014
September 2017 – June 2018 1st January 2013 – 31st August 2014
January 2018 – June 2018 1st January 2013 – 31st December 2014

A more comprehensive table with the number of weeks a child is eligible can be viewed here:
Your-childs-eligibility-for-the-ECCE-programme

For a downloadable pdf version of this information  please click here.

 

How do I find a pre-school setting?

There are almost 5000 pre-schools running the ECCE free pre-school year. You may have a recommendation from a friend or you might have an idea of the type of pre-school you want to send your child to. Here are some tips for finding a pre-school:

  • We also have outlined a number of practical steps you can take to ensure that you make the best possible choice for your child : Making the Choice

 

Booking your child’s free pre-school place

Most settings will have either a waiting list or an enrolment procedure. When you have made your decision, make contact with them and fill in a booking form.

A large number of settings require a booking deposit to secure the place which will be refunded once your child’s place has been verified by Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

When your child starts, the setting will ask you to complete a declaration form confirming your child’s details and this is sent to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs who will then fund your child’s place.

Getting ready for Preschool

We have developed a free guide for parents to help their child with the transition to preschool:

Going to Preschool

Going to Preschool Leaflet

Children with Additional Needs – Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, has introduced a new model to enable children with disabilities to access and fully participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme.

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the pre-school provider. Further information is available at Access Inclusion Model website and Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) – Information and Contact Leaflet.

 

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