Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

The benefits for children of quality early childhood care and education are well documented.

Under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme, all eligible children in the Republic of Ireland are entitled to free early childhood care and education (otherwise known as ‘free pre-school’) in the period before they start primary school.

Since September 2018, there has been only be one intake of children in September each year –  increasing all children’s participation on the ECCE programme to two full pre-school years, please see the ECCE eligibility calculator.

In order to support children with a disability to access free pre-school, a major new programme of supports, the Access and Inclusion Mode (AIM), has been introduced.

Use our ECCE Calculator to check if your child qualifies for the Free-School Year.

What is the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme?

The Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) is designed to give children access to a free Pre-School Year of appropriate programme-based activities in the year before they start primary school. A good quality preschool helps get your child ready for Primary School.

Further Information for Parents

A guide for parents to the Pre-School year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme is available. Click the download now button below to download a copy

Universal Subsidy

Universal Subsidies are available to all families with children under 3 years old. They are also available to families with children over 3 years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool programme (ECCE). This subsidy is not means tested and provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for a maximum of 45 hours per week.

A parent will need to a Universal Application online on www.ncs.gov.ie and provide a CHICK outlining the universal subsidy award. The parent will need the following to apply:

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