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The Department of Children Equality, Integration, Disability and Youth (DCEDIY) operates 4 childcare government programmes; ECCE, CCSP, TEC and NCS. Below is a short summary of each, for further detail click on the relevant subtabs.
ECCE, the Free Preschool Programme
The ECCE programme is a universal free pre-school programme available to all eligible children for two years before starting primary school. In line with primary schools, the programme runs from September to June for three hours per, day five days per week.
All children are eligible from the September after they turn 2 years and 8 months. The upper age limit is 5 years and 6 months. This means that, in order to be eligible, a child cannot turn this age at any point before the end of the pre-school year (i.e. end of June). The table below outlines eligibility for the free preschool programme by birth month.
|Birth date between||Eligible enrolment date(s)|
|1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018||1 September 2021 & 1 September 2022|
|1 January 2019 – 31 December 2019||1 September 2022 & 1 September 2023|
|1 January 2020 – 31 December 2020||1 September 2023 & 1 September 2024|
|1 January 2021 – 31 December 2021||1 September 2024 & 1 September 2025|
|1 January 2022 – 31 December 2022||1 September 2025 & 1 September 2026|
The free preschool programme is not affected by the National Childcare Scheme. The National Childcare Scheme will ‘wrap-around’ the free preschool programme hours, providing financial support towards the cost of childcare for the hours spent outside of preschool. This means that National Childcare Scheme subsidies can be can be used for any hours spent outside of preschool, up to the maximum hours available to you.
The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) and the Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP) Programmes
The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme and the Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP) Programmes are childcare programmes to support parents on a low incomes with their childcare costs. They can be used in participating community and private childcare services. The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) pays for a portion of the childcare costs for eligible children with the parent paying the remainder. CCS and CCSP programmes are available for 52 weeks. They run for a ‘programme year’ which starts in September 2019 and finishes in August 2020. These programmes are closed to new applications from October 2019.
Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) Programmes
The TEC programmes support parents who are studying, training or on Community Employment schemes by providing subsidised childcare places.
There are three programmes that are part of TEC:
The Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme provides childcare for parents who are studying in Secondary Schools or with Local Education and Training Boards. The After School Child Care Programme (ASCC) provides afterschool care for primary school children with parents who are in certain categories of work and Department of Social Protection employment programmes. This doesn’t include Community Employment. The Community Employment Childcare Programme (CEC) provides childcare for children with parents who are participating in Community Employment Schemes. These programmes are all closed to new applications from October 2019
The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) opened in 2019 and will replace all previous targeted childcare programmes with a single streamlined and user-friendly Scheme to help parents meet the cost of quality childcare. The National Childcare Scheme provides subsidies to help parents meet the cost of quality Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare. It will replace all previous targeted childcare support programmes with a single, streamlined and user friendly Scheme. Under the National Childcare Scheme, subsidies are available for families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending any participating Tusla registered childcare service, including any Tusla registered childminder and school age childcare services.
For more information on these programmes; Other Childcare Schemes · Applicant Portal (ncs.gov.ie)