The ECCE – Early Childhood care and Education Programme is designed to give children access to a free pre-school place of appropriate programme-based activities in the years before they start primary school. The Early Childhood Care and Education Programme is a universal free pre-school programme for children from the age of 3 years old.
Participation in a pre-school programme provides children with their first formal experience of early learning, the starting point of their educational and social development outside the home.
This scheme allows access to children from the age of 3 years up to the time they enter primary school. The department has set 3 entry points during each year:
September, for children who turn 3 years on or before the 31st August.
January, for children who turn 3 years on or before the 31st December.
April, for children who turn 3 years on or before the 31st March.
Participation in the ECCE Scheme is available in both community and private childcare services.
Use the ECCE Calculator to determine what year a child will be eligible