The ECCE programme is a universal programme available to all children within the eligible age range. The programme is provided for three hours per day, five days per week over 38 weeks per year and the programme year runs from September to June.

There are three points of entry throughout the programme year – September, January and April. Childcare services taking part in the ECCE scheme 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.

Eligibility for ECCE The programme is available to all children from the age of three. The three entry points allow children to begin free pre-school as soon as possible after they have turned three years of age. The three eligibility points for the 2017/18 ECCE Programme are as follows:

Born between Entry point
1 January 2013 and 31 August 2014 From 28 August 2017
1 January 2013 and 31 December 2014 From 02 January 2018
1 January 2013 and 31 March 2015 From 02 April 2018


For further information on eligibility please see ECCE calculator on www.dcya.gov.ie