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.  To download a copy of the compliance guide click here: Compliance Guide for Service Providers for ECCE 2020-2021 (1)

The programme rules for ECCE 2021/22 can be found here: Version 3 ECCE Programme Rules 2021

The first stage of Programme Readiness 2021-22 for ECCE, NCS and CCSP Saver programmes will be available for services on 28th May, 2021.

Please note that all important Programme Readiness dates will be added to the Early Years Hive announcement calendar page for your benefit.

The Primary Authorised User (PAU) for each service must complete the following tasks for their service:

  • Confirm Organisation details
  • Confirm Service provider details
  • Confirm PAU
  • Confirm Portal users
  • Confirm Bank account (ECCE and NCS only)
  • Confirm TUSLA registration*
  • Create a 2021/22 Service calendar
  • Create a 2021/22 Fees list
  • Activate the Funding Agreement**

*An Approved Provider who provides both early learning and care and school age childcare must have a valid Tusla registration for both service types.

*For NCS and ECCE, services are required to create their 2021/22 service calendar and fees list before they can activate the NCS 2021 funding agreement.

Please see below for more information and guidance on these readiness tasks for each programme.

Please also see a link to the slides for the training webinar on the enhancements for this year’s programme readiness here and the recorded version of the webinar here.

Action Sheet: ECCE Contract and Terms and Conditions

An ELC Service provider must have a minimum enrolment number of eight ECCE-eligible children per session.

Exceptions to the minimum enrolment number may be granted in some circumstances. Applications must be submitted to the City/County Childcare Committee.

ECCE is administered on the Early Years Hive portal and all Programme Readiness tasks must be completed on the Hive. Please see the below guides available in the Help & Support section of the Hive for guidance:

Once you complete the above tasks, you are now ready to activate the funding agreement for ECCE 2021/22.The funding agreement is available under the Programmes tab. You can find a guide and a training video on activating an ECCE funding agreement in the Help & Support section of the Hive here.

Service Providers must be on-boarded on the Hive in order to complete these readiness tasks. If you are new to Hive and looking to on-board your service, please see the on-boarding page of Hive for more information.

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.

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 Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is not a subvention payment, it is intended to support services providers to provide three free hours per day of ECCE.

If the service provider offers any deposits, discounts or optional extras; they must be documented. For presentation purposes on the Fees List, please be mindful to add a new line for each additional Optional Extra offered.


The standard weekly ECCE capitation is €69.00 for the 2020/2021 programme year. Where a child is attending a part-time or full time service the ELC Service provider must reduce the fees paid by the parent/guardian by €64.50 (or €12.90 per day) which was the standard capitation rate in 2017 before the 7% increase was introduced in the 2018 budget to support quality in childcare.

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.

Good Practice Guide for Attendance Records ECCE Programme

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

Useful Downloads for the ECCE Scheme

ECCE Pre-registration Form

Letter to Parent or Guardian

ECCE Quick Guides

ECCE Guides

Higher Capitation


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