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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.

To avail of the ECCE programme at any stage during the year before the pre-school year

Children must have been born between the following dates (both dates inclusive)

September 2015 -   June 2016

2nd February 2011 – 30th June 2012

To avail of the ECCE Programme with effect from

Children must have been born between the following dates (both dates inclusive)

September 2016 – June 2017

1st January 2012 – 31St August 2013

January 2017 – June 2017

1st January 2012 – 31st December 2013

April 2017 – June 2017

1st January 2012 – 31st March 2014


How much will it cost?

If your child is eligible for the free pre-school year then your child is entitled to a pre-school session of 3 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 38 weeks, for free.

Childcare service can charge for additional services that they provide, such as additional extra activities, such as trips, swimming, parties, etc. Childcare services receive a capitation of €64.50 per week for 38 weeks, for each child. If you avail of extra hours/optional activities, your ECCE payment will be applied as a reduction of €64.50 weekly for 38 week.

It is not mandatory that children attend 5 days per week but, where they do not, the capitation fee will be reduced on a pro-rata basis.

How do I know which childcare services are in the ECCE programme, and how do I get a place for my child?

A list of current ECCE services is available from Fingal County Childcare Committee. Give the office a call on (01) 4851727 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Once you get the list of ECCE services you should make contact with some local childcare services to see if they have ECCE places available. They will explain their fees to you, along with any extras that they offer. Once you have found a childcare service that you wish your child to attend, they will ask you for some information about your child, such as your child’s PPS number and date of birth.

Can I transfer my child from one childcare service to another?

You may choose to transfer your child from one ECCE service to another at any stage during the pre-school year. You must give 4 weeks’ notice to the childcare service, and you are required to complete a transfer form, which must be signed by the original service and the new service. If you transfer your child without any notice period, the original service will be paid 4 weeks capitation in lieu of notice and you will have to pay fees for the following 4 weeks in the new service.

Can I use a Childminder instead?

Yes, childminders who meet certain requirements can apply to provide the ECCE programme.

Please contact the Fingal County Childcare Committee for a list of any childminders in your area that are participating in the programme.

What if my child is too old to participate in the ECCE programme?

If your child is above the age range for the ECCE programme, there are some circumstances under which they may still avail of the programme:


During the September 2016/17 preschool year, exceptions to the ECCE upper age limit will only be allowed where the child has been assessed by the HSE, or a treating consultant, as having special needs which will delay their entry to school. Applications for such exemptions are to be submitted in writing, enclosing the relevant medical report, in advance, directly to the DCYA for approval.


 Children with a Disability entering the ECCE in September 2016

A new National Disability Model – Access Inclusion Model (AIM) will be fully operational in September 2016. AIM focuses on the developmental level of children with disabilities, their functional ability and their needs. It does not focus on diagnosis, and in any event, it recognises that many children may not have a formal diagnosis at the time of presenting to pre-school.

There are 7 Levels to the new National Disability Model:

Level 1: An Inclusive Culture – This level is the critical foundation for the model. This sets out that a strong culture of inclusion must be fostered and embedded to support all children’s maximum participation in the ECCE Programme. Recommendations include the development of a national inclusion policy for ECCE, the identification of an Inclusion Co-ordinator in each ECCE setting, funding being made available to provide training in inclusion for these and other early years practitioners, and a small increase in capitation for ECCE settings who meet certain criteria to incentivise fully inclusive practice.

Level 2: Information to Parents and Providers – This level recognises the requirement of parents and providers to have clear, consistent and up to date information accessible to them regarding ECCE services and supports. Recommendations include the development of a national website which is linked from all relevant children’s services and development of information packs which can be provided at local level.

Level 3: A Qualified Confident Workforce – This level recognises the requirement to continue to develop a qualified workforce that can confidently meet the needs of all children wishing to participate in the ECCE Programme. It supports the recommendations from the Interdepartmental Group (IDG) on Future Investment in Early Years and School Aged (including After-School and Out-of-School) Care and Education to continue to raise the minimum qualification for employment in the sector. It also seeks dedicated funding for formal and informal training and a structure to be put in place to ensure same.

Level 4: Expert Educational Advice and Support – This level addresses the needs of early years practitioners across the country to have timely access to advice and support from experts in early years education (and disability in particular) to assist them meet each child’s needs. It recommends an enhancement of the Better Start Early Years Specialist Service (EYSS) that was established in 2014.

Level 5: Equipment, Appliances and Minor Alterations Capital Grant – This level recognises that some children require specialised equipment, appliances, assistive technology and/or that some ECCE settings may require minor structural alterations to ensure children with a disability can participate in the ECCE Programme. It recommends the provision of annual funding, the establishment of a grant and an application process to access these supports.

Level 6: Therapeutic Intervention – This level provides for access to therapeutic services where they are critical to enable the child be enrolled, and fully participate, in the ECCE Programme. It recommends further enhancement of HSE Therapy Services to enable priority be given to this important aspect of early intervention.

Level 7: Additional Assistance in the Pre-School Room – This level recognises that a small number of children (approximately 1.0% - 1.5% of those availing of the ECCE Programme) will require more support than is available through Levels 1 – 6. The IDG recommends the provision of additional capitation to providers where an application process has demonstrated that supports for Levels 1 – 6 have not, or will not, by themselves, meet the child’s needs. The additional capitation will be agreed with the provider and parent. It can be used by the provider to buy in additional support, to reduce the staff/child ratio, or for other specified purposes, all centred on supporting the pre-school leader to ensure the child’s optimal participation.

To find out more information on the ECCE Programme or the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) contact the Fingal County Childcare Committee on (01) 4851727 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further details in relation to AIM – Access and Inclusion Model can be found at


 Please see link to DCYA Programme Rules 2017/2018