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

PLEASE NOTE: From September 2018, the ECCE scheme will be made available to all children over the age of two years and eight months.  Children born between 1st January 2014 and 31st December 2015 will be eligible for the ECCE scheme in September 2018.  (There will be a single entry point in September 2018 and the January and April will no longer exist).