Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme
A year of free early childhood care and education in Ireland
Looking after kids can be pretty expensive sometimes. If you’re raising small kids, you probably have a million and one costs on your mind, but because of the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme, the cost of playschool or early daycare is one thing you can knock off your list of expenses.
What’s the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme?
The Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (also know as the ECCE) is a handy scheme that provides a year of free early childhood care and education, that is open to all children in Ireland. In January 2016, this will become available to all children between the ages 3 and 5 and a half, or until they begin primary school.
Who’s eligible for it?
All children in Ireland who are aged over 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years and 7 months on September 1st on the year that they are starting. If your child has special needs, you can apply to have the upper age limit extended. You can write to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to do so.
So how exactly does the ECCE scheme work?
Basically, your child will be able to attend a participating playschool, daycare centre, montessori school, completely free of charge for a year. This is normally for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, over the course of 38 weeks. Anything over this, you’ll usually have to pay for.
Bear in mind however, you may be asked to pay a deposit to secure your child’s place. This will vary depending on the service and place, so make sure to ask!
Great! How do I apply?
You can apply by directly getting in touch with participating services. To find out what services are participating near you, get in touch with your local City or County Childcare Committee. You can find a list of their contact details here.
You’ll need to have a copy of your child’s birth certificate or passport and PPS number, so make sure to have these to hand!