Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE)

The Free Pre-School Year in the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) is a universal childcare programme designed to give children access to 2 years free pre-school education before they start primary school.

Is my child eligible for the ECCE Programme?

The age criteria for the current and coming pre-school year is as follows in relation to the ECCE Programme

Check your child's eligibility

Eligibility for ECCE by month of birth

Exemptions to upper age limit

For the programme year 2020/2021, exceptions to the upper age limit may be granted where a child has special/additional needs. Applications for such exemptions must be submitted in writing to eyqueries@dyca.gov.ie and must include a letter of recommendation from a medical specialist(not a GP/Public Health Nurse) stating that it is in the best interest of the child to avail of a further year of preschool.

Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)

is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. Its goal is to empower service providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can fully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of quality early years care and education. There are 7 levels of support:
Universal Supports (Levels 1 – 3 of the Access and Inclusion Model)
Universal supports are designed to promote and support an inclusive culture within pre-school settings by means of a variety of educational and capacity-building initiatives. Specifically:
  • A new Inclusion Charter has been developed for the pre-school sector. Pre-school providers are invited to sign-up to this Charter by producing and publishing their own Inclusion Policy. To support this process, updated Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education have been produced and a national training programme on the Inclusion Charter and the Guidelines is being delivered by the City and County Childcare Committees. The Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Charter and Guidelines can be accessed here
  • A new higher education programme, “Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years” (LINC), commenced in September 2016. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs will fund approximately 900 places per annum, over 4 years, on this programme. Pre-school settings employing a LINC graduate (who has agreed to take on the role and responsibilities of Inclusion Co-ordinator within their pre-school setting) will attract an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting.
  • Finally, a broad multi-annual programme of formal and informal training for pre-school staff in relation to disability and inclusion will be funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and will be delivered by a number of agencies (e.g. the City and County Childcare Committees, Early Years Specialist Service, Health Service Executive) and other agencies.
Targeted Supports (Levels 4 – 7 of the Access and Inclusion Model)
The supports at levels 1 to 3, when appropriately developed, have been found internationally to be sufficient to support many children with disabilities. However, where a pre-school provider, in partnership with a parent or guardian, considers that some further additional support may be necessary to meet the needs of a particular child, they can apply for one or more of the following targeted supports:
  • Expert advice, mentoring and support is available from a team of 60 specialists in early years care and education for children with disabilities. These experts, termed Early Years Specialists, are based in the Better Start National Early Years Quality Development Service.
  • A scheme is available for the provision of specialised equipment, appliances and grants towards minor building alterations which are necessary to support a child’s participation in the ECCE Programme.
  • Therapy services, which are critical to a child’s participation in the ECCE Programme, are available through AIM and will be provided by the HSE.
  • Finally, where the above supports are not sufficient to meet the needs of a child, pre-school providers, in partnership with parents or guardians, can apply for additional capitation to fund extra support in the classroom or to enable the reduction of the staff to child ratio.
Better Start Access and Inclusion Model Better Start National Early Years Quality Development
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

For further information on the ECCE Programme including the Rules for ECCE Programme, Valid for the 2020/21 Programme Year and Information on Minimum Enrolment Exemptions: Click Here

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Complaints Form

If you have a query please contact us on 01 4851727 or info@fingalcountychildcare.ie   

But if you have a complaint please fill in the form below. Staff are trained to answer your queries/complaints and every effort is made to resolve them promptly and efficiently. We endeavour to get back to you within 48 hours.