Childcare Funded Programmes

ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education)

The ECCE programme is a universal programme available to all children within the eligible age range, From September 2018, the ECCE scheme has been made available to all children over the age of 2 years and 8 months for two full programme years. The upper age limit on finishing the ECCE remains at 5years and 6 months. 

Eligibility for ECCE by month of birth and of enrolment in pre-school for 2020 to 2024

Birth date between

ECCE start date
ECCE end date

1st January 2016 –   31st December 2016

1st September 2019 + 1st September 2020

June 2021

1st January 2017 –   31st December 2017

1st September 2020 + 1st September 2021

June 2022

1st January 2018 –   31st December 2018

1st September 2021 + 1st September 2022

June 2023

1st January 2019 –   31st December 2019

1st September 2022 + 1st September 2023

June 2024

Childcare services taking part in the ECCE scheme must provide an appropriate pre-school educational programme which adheres to the principles of Síolta and Aistear, the national frameworks for early years care and education.



The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a programme of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme in mainstream pre-school settings and can participate fully in the pre-school curriculum alongside their peers.

To view more information on Aim, go to AIM for Providers  or call Sligo CCC on 07191-48860

Ecce Qualifications

A childcare provider must ensure all staff working with children hold, at a minimum, a qualification that meets the requirements of the Regulations.

Room Leaders must, at a minimum, hold a qualification that meets the grant funding agreement requirements for ECCE Room Leader as set out on the published list of DCEDIY ‘Early Years Recognised Qualifications’ or hold a Letter of Eligibility to Practice at this level issued by the DCEDIY (see more information relating to qualifications, including the published list on DCEDIY Early Years Recognised Qualifications



Fees List

Service providers are required to develop a fees list for the ECCE programme that they provide. It is important to capture all the session types that a service provider offers to parents

The ECCE fees list must reflect that ECCE funding from the DCEDIY is not a subvention payment, it is intended to support services providers to provide three free hours per day of ECCE

ECCE Calendar Quick Guide 2022-2023

ECCE Fees List Guide 2022-2023


Service Calendar

ECCE service calendar rules

Service providers are required to open for a minimum number of weeks per ECCE term.

Service Providers must mark all the days the service is ‘closed’ on the Service Calendar. Please see the full ECCE payable/non-payable week information below:

Payable Week Non-Payable Week
3 open days Less than 3 open days
Bank holiday and 2 open days Bank holiday and only 1 open day
2 x Bank holidays and 2 open days 2 x Bank holidays and 1 open day

Note: According to Rule: 3.1.3 of the Rules for ECCE Programme valid for the 2022/23 programme year (available here), Service Providers are required to open for a minimum number of weeks per ECCE Term.

Services must provide a minimum number of weeks for each Term as follows:

ECCE terms Dates Week in period Required payment weeks for service providers
Term 1 22/08/2022 – 23/12/2022 18 weeks 15-17 weeks
Term 2 26/12/2022 – 07/04/2023 15 weeks 11-14 weeks
Term 3 10/04/2023 – 14/07/2023 14 weeks 9-14 weeks
Total 47 weeks

Must meet required 38/41 weeks

(Separate system rule in place for this)


2022-23 Programme Call: 38-week Services run over 45 weeks and must submit their calendar with an end date on 30/06/2023 as per table presented.

2022-23 Programme Call: 41 week Services run over 47 weeks adding to Term 3 two more open weeks, therefore the required minimum number of opening weeks in Term 3 will be 09 – 14 weeks.

Further Information

National Childcare Scheme Sponsor Referral

The National Childcare Scheme makes special arrangements for some children and families to be sponsored by certain public bodies so they can get childcare under the NCS. Families with high levels of need, who require childcare for child welfare, child protection or family support reasons, may be referred for childcare support by a specified “Sponsor Body”.  Where such a referral is made, the family will automatically qualify for a subsidy for the number of hours considered appropriate by the Sponsor Body without having to satisfy the scheme’s eligibility, income or enhanced hours requirements.  The Scheme will cover the cost of the sponsored childcare, with no requirement for any parental co-payment.

The five statutory bodies specified as sponsors in the Childcare Support Act 2018, and the specific groups of children who will benefit, are:

  • Minister for Education and Skills – for teen parents who are still in education or training;
  • Minister for Justice and Equality – for refugees and asylum seekers, to enable parents’ participation in education, integration and other relevant supports;
  • Tusla, Child and Family Agency – to promote the welfare of children, either where there is a child protection concern, or as a form of early intervention or family support;
  • HSE – to support child development for children who are below the age for participation in ECCE and where there is an identified need for childcare as a developmental support for the child; and
  • Local Authorities – to support homeless persons with children that are homeless or moving out of homelessness to access childcare services.

Each Sponsor Body has its own eligibility criteria, and its own referral form, which sets out those criteria. The Sponsor decides if a particular child is eligible; eligibility may include age rules (e.g. HSE only refer children under 4 years). The Sponsor Referral Officer will have the relevant referral form and will link with the family to complete the form, which then must be signed and stamped by the Sponsor.

Sponsors decide on the number of hours and weeks the Subsidy will cover, up to a max of 45 hours (from 7th September, 2020) and usually up to 52 weeks.

A referral is initiated by a sponsor body by completing a sponsor referral form (using only the official form, to be stamped with the referring body’s official stamp). The referral form will include basic information necessary for a referral to be made, including:

  • child and parent information – name, date of birth and PPSN,
  • amount of childcare recommended (i.e. the total number of hours inclusive of educational stage school hours in term time and non-term time),
  • duration of referral (i.e. total number of weeks),
  • current and next educational stage of child,
  • the referral officer details and the designated contact person details, as appropriate.

For Further information visit the sponsor referral section in the Resources FAQ on the Hive or view section 14 of the following NCS Sponsor referral\Policy Guidelines

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