The ECCE programme is a universal programme available to all children within the eligible age range. It provides children with their first formal experience of early learning prior to commencing primary school. The programme is provided for three hours per day, five days per week over 38 weeks2 per year and the programme year runs from September to June.

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.

Please see RULES FOR ECCE PROGRAMMEValid for the 2020/21 Programme Year by clicking on this link: ECCE Programme Rules 2020

In certain circumstances, a service may receive an exemption from the minimum number of ECCE children required per session. For more information on this please click here Minimum ECCE Enrolment Exemptions 

The Exemption form can be downloaded here: Min ECCE Enrolement Exemptions Form

Registering a child on the ECCE

Parents must complete an ECCE Pre Registration Form

The Childcare Service must provide the parent with a Fee Policy and Calendar.

Higher Capitation

The ECCE Higher Capitation rate is equivalent to an additional €11.25 per child per week above the €69.00 standard rate. Where a child is attending a part-time or full-time service that is in receipt of the Higher Capitation rate, the Childcare Provider must reduce the fees paid by the parent/guardian by €64.50 (which was the Standard Capitation rate before the 7% increase in the Standard Capitation rate intended for the benefit of the Service Provider in the 2018 budget).

Fees List and Service Calendar – 

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 DCYA is not a subvention payment, it is intended to support services providers to provide three free hours per day of ECCE.

Programme Readiness:

For Information on the Primary Authorised User, Certification and Online Contracting please click on the link here: How to Guide PAU, Certification and Online Contracting

Download DCYA Childcare Funding Programmes Optional Extras Guide

Download Good Practice Guide for Attendance Records

Download Min Numbers Guidelines

Changes in relation to the ECCE Programme 

The following is a summary of changes to the ECCE programme

  • All eligible children will receive two full programme years
  • Age of eligibility reduced from 3 years to 2 years and 8 months
  • Upper age limit remains 5 years and 6 months
  • Number of enrolment points changed from three to one in September
  • Standard capitation increased to €69
  • Higher capitation increased to €80.25

The new measures will fully benefit those born from 2015 onwards whilst those born previous to that will continue to benefit from the expanded programme announced in Budget 2016.

The following table sets out relevant eligibility dates by year of birth:

Table 1: Eligibility for ECCE by month of birth and of enrolment in pre-school

Birth date between Eligible Enrolment date(s) 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

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