Title: Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme
Author: Citizens Information
In general, children are eligible for the ECCE scheme if they are aged between 3 years 2 months and 4 years 7 months on 1 September of the year that they will be starting. This means that children born between 2 February 2010 and 30 June 2011 (both these dates included) are eligible to take part in the scheme for the school year 2014 – 2015.
If your child attends a half-day or “sessional” service, such as a playschool, naíonra, Montessori or parent and toddler group, the normal pattern for the free pre-school year is 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, over 38 weeks. If your child attends for more than 3 hours, you will be charged for the extra time.
If your child’s sessional service cannot open for 5 days a week, the normal pattern for the free pre-school year is 3 hours and 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week, over 41 weeks. This only applies to services which have already been granted permission to run their service over 41 weeks.
If your child attends a full-time or part-time daycare service, the normal pattern for the free pre-school year is 3 hours per day over 38 weeks. If your child attends for longer than this each day, you will be charged for the extra time. You will also be charged for the extra number of weeks attended.
There is no charge to parents for the playschool or daycare hours provided under the ECCE scheme. The State capitation fee pays the playschool or daycare service to provide these ECCE hours. However, if your child attends for extra hours, you will have to pay for these extra hours in the normal way.
A service may charge parents for extra activities. However, these must be optional and the service must provide other appropriate activities to children who don’t take part in the optional activity being charged for.
The service may ask you for a booking deposit, which cannot be more than four times the weekly capitation fee (see below). Any deposit you pay must be repaid to you by the end of October of the year your child starts.
Capitation rates for service providers
For providers of daycare and sessional services, the weekly capitation fee is generally €62.50 over 38 weeks.
Daycare and sessional playschools with more highly qualified staff may be able to qualify for a higher capitation fee of €73 per week over 38 weeks.
To find a childcare provider near you, contact your local City or County Childcare Committee (CCC).