What is the ECCE scheme?
The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides a free year of early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age.
ECCE Scheme - All your questions answered
Is my child eligible?
Children qualify for ECCE if they are 2 year and 8 months by 1st of Sept at the start of the preschool year. Your child can continue until they transfer to primary school (provided that they are not older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the pre-school year). Children are entitled to 2 free preschool years. You can find a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the extended ECCE scheme (pdf) on the website of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Also you can find more details on www.citizensinformation.ie.
How long does the scheme last for?
Children qualify for ECCE if they are 2 year and 8 months by 1st of Sept at the start of the preschool year. If your child is over the eligibility age requirement due to special needs they may be able to get an exemption from the upper age limit for the ECCE Scheme. You should write to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs seeking an exemption from the age limit (see ‘How to apply’ below).If your local primary school’s entry age policy requires children to be aged over 5 years and 6 months before starting school, you can also apply to the Department for an exemption from the upper age limit.You should send your application for an exemption as soon as possible.There are no exemptions to the lower age limit.
Do I pay the school in advance and claim back?
There is no charge, upfront or otherwise to parents for the montessori hours provided under the ECCE scheme. The State pays a capitation fee directly to Acorns montessori. In return, we provide a montessori pre-school service free of charge to all children within the qualifying age range for 3 hours per day over a single school year.
How many Free hours per day are covered?
The pattern for the free pre-school year is 3 hours a day, up to 5 days a week, over 38 weeks.