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Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme


The ECCE programme is a universal programme available to all children within the eligible age range. It provides children with their first formal experience of early learning prior to commencing primary school. 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 each year. There are three points of entry throughout the programme year – September, January and April. Childcare services taking part in the ECCE scheme must provide an appropriate pre-school educational programme which adheres to the principles of Síolta, the national framework for early years care and education.


Is my child eligible for the Early Childhood Care and Education (free pre-school) programme?

Information for Parents - ECCE



Rules for DCYA Funding Programmes 2017/2018

An Roinn Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige Rialacha Maidir Le Cláir Christine Cúram Leanaí an Rlgó



Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, has introduced a new model to enable children with disabilities to access and fully participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)  Programme.

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the pre-school provider.  Further information is available at Access Inclusion Model website and Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) - Information and Contact Leaflet.


Consultation on overage exemptions to the ECCE programme

A consultation is being carried out by the National Disability Authority (NDA) on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Education and Skills. This will involve input from parents of children who are currently availing of overage exemptions and a final report will be produced at the end of June 2018.

 Please find further information on overage exemptions here.



Please see our section on Qualifications for more information.

ECCE Higher Capitation for Service Provider

Higher Capitation will be paid for individual ECCE Sessions where the ECCE Room leader holds a qualification recognised as meeting the minimum contract requirements for ECCE (“Higher Cap”) as set out on the published list of ‘Early Years Recognised Qualifications’, (or must otherwise be deemed eligible by the DCYA), and have a minimum of 3 years’ experience working in the childcare sector.  Services that have multiple ECCE sessions, but only one/some with a Room Leader with the necessary higher capitation qualification can avail of higher capitation funding for the part(s) of their service delivered by the ECCE Room leader(s).

For more information see:

Higher Capitation rules and Q&A 2017-2018 ECCE Year.

ECCE Higher Capitation Rate Application Form.

ECCE Higher Capitation Staff Amendment Form.

ECCE Higher Capitation Room Amendment Form.


Minimum ECCE Enrolment Exemptions

In certain circumstances a service may receive an exemption from the minimum number of ECCE children required per session for an ECCE contract. For more information and how to apply please see our information document and application form.                       


Contact Details:

ECCE Section,
Early Years Policies and Programmes,
Department of Children and Youth Affairs,
43-49 Mespil Road,
Dublin 4, D04 YP52
Tel: 01 6473000
Fax: 01 6473224


Sonraí Teagmhála:

An Rannóg ECCE,
Polasaithe agus Cláir na Luathbhlianta,
An Roinn Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige,
43-49 Bóthar Mespil,
Baile Átha Cliath 4, D04 YP52
Teil: 01 6473000
Facs: 01 6473224

follow us on twitter skills to work Supporting SMEs Be Winter Ready The Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme