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Guide to the ECCE Programme and Administrative Procedures

 

Most of the information in this Guide relates to administrative procedures and is primarily aimed at service providers.  However, parents will find some sections helpful, particularly the information of Optional Additional Charges (Section 2.10), Eligibility Criteria (Section 3), the procedures which must be followed when moving children from one service to another (Section 6), and the rules governing the waiving of the upper age limit and the two year pro-rata option for children with special needs (Section 7).  The forms referred to in the text are available for download at Appendix 1.

In this document, “the Department” means the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.  “Local CCC” means your local City or County Childcare Committee.  A list of the CCCs, together with their telephone numbers, can be downloaded at Appendix 2.

Contents


1.  Overview of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme


2.  Applications by service providers to enter or re-enter the programme

2.1    Minimum size of service


2.2    Staff Qualifications


2.3    Higher Capitation Fee


2.4    Staff Ratios


2.5    HSE Compliance


2.6    Contract


2.7    Electronic Fund Transfer


2.8    Tax Clearance


2.9    Outstanding Debts to the Department


2.10  Optional Additional Charges


2.11  Closure of services, moving premises, or transfer of ownership

 

3.  Eligibility Criteria

4.  Electronic Returns

5.   Payments


6.   Changes in enrolment details after the Electronic Returns have been submitted

6.1    New/Late Entrants


6.2    Transferring from one Service Provider to another
   


6.3    Settling-In Period


6.4    Child ceasing to avail of the ECCE programme


6.5    Transfer from the ECCE programme to the CCS programme, and vice versa


6.6    Transfer from the ECCE programme to the CETS programme


6.7    Transfer from the CETS programme to the ECCE programme


6.8    Change in level of service


6.9    Deferral of ECCE place to the following year


6.10  Appeals

 

7. Compliance


8.    Applications to waive the upper age limit and for pro-rata arrangements
 

 

1.    Overview of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme


The free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme was introduced with effect from January 2010.  The programme is administered by the Childcare Directorate of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, with the local operation of the programme managed by the City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs). 


Children qualify for the free pre-school year where they are aged more than 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months at 1 September in the relevant pre-school year.

 

To avail of the programme at any stage during the pre-school year commencing  Children must have been born between the following dates
(both dates inclusive)
September 2013  2 February 2009 and 30 June 2010
September 2014 2 February 2010 and 30 June 2011
September 2015 2 February 2011 and 30 June 2012

The objective of the ECCE programme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to eligible children in the year before they commence primary school.  To achieve this, services participating in the pre-school year are required to provide age-appropriate activities and programmes to children within a particular age cohort.  For this reason, it is necessary to set minimum and maximum limits to the age range within which children will qualify to participate in the programme.

Both community and commercial service providers can apply to participate in the ECCE programme. 
 
Payment under the ECCE programme is by way of capitation fees which are paid directly to the service provider.  A capitation fee is payable in respect of each eligible child enrolled in the free pre-school year, on a pro-rata basis if applicable.  A higher rate of capitation is payable in respect of certain pre-school services with more highly qualified staff.
The free pre-school year is delivered on the basis of 3 hours per day, 5 days per week, 38 weeks per year.  It is not mandatory that children attend every day but, where they do not, the capitation fee will be reduced on a pro-rata basis. 

It is a fundamental principle of the programme that the pre-school year is available free to parents, and all participating services are obliged to meet the costs of the free pre-school year out of the capitation fees.  Services may, however, charge parents for additional services provided, including additional hours and additional activities, provided that certain rules are followed in relation to such charges.
Specific, up-to-date forms must be completed in respect of various elements of the programme.  These forms are specified in the relevant area of this Guide, and can be downloaded at Appendix 1.

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2.    Applications by service providers to enter or re-enter the programme


The deadline for applications for entry or re-entry to the ECCE programme from September 2013 is 29th March 2013.  Services which are already participating in the programme will be sent a Re-Entry Application form by their local City/County Childcare Committee (CCC).  This form must be completed and returned to the CCC by 29th March 2013.  Services which are not currently participating in the programme but wish to enter should contact their local CCC to request an application form.  This form must be completed and returned to the CCC by 29th March 2013.


The CCC carries out an initial appraisal of each application and liaises with the local HSE Pre-school Inspector regarding the service’s regulatory compliance.  The CCC will compile and collate all relevant information in relation to applications and, provided the HSE requirements are met and  the CCC has no reservations, the CCC will recommend the application.  The collated information and hard copies of the applications are returned to the Childcare Directorate.


When received by the Childcare Directorate, the applications are examined for (a) staff qualifications, (b) notification to the HSE, (c) Tax Clearance, and (d) outstanding debts to the Department.  If everything is in order, the applications are submitted for approval of the contract.
 
 2.1    Minimum size of service 

Services are expected to have a minimum enrolment of at least 8 eligible children to participate in the programme, and a service that does not have this level of participation has no entitlement to be funded under the programme. Exceptions to this minimum requirement will be considered where, for good reason, a service which is an appropriate setting for the pre-school year has (a) an enrolment of at least 8 children of whom at least 3 qualify for the programme and the remainder will qualify in the following year, or (b) is a smaller service which has an enrolment of not fewer than 5 children in their pre-school year.


When applying to participate in the ECCE programme for the first time, or applying to continue to participate in the ECCE programme, service providers will be required to declare on the application form that they will have a minimum of five children of pre-school age (i.e. 2½ to 6 years) in their service during the pre-school year, to enable them to deliver an appropriate ECCE programme.  Compliance with this requirement will be checked by representatives of Pobal in the course of their on-site compliance visits.

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2.2    Staff Qualifications


Pre-school leaders in the programme must hold a nationally accredited major award in Childcare / Early Childhood Education at Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) or equivalent).
The content of all relevant major awards must include significant content on child development 0 – 6, early childhood curriculum and child health and welfare.  The course must also have included supervised practice in an early childhood care and education setting.

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2.3    Higher capitation fee

A higher capitation fee is payable to pre-school service providers where all the pre-school leaders delivering the pre-school service hold a nationally accredited major award in Early Childhood Care and Education at Level 7 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) or equivalent and have 3 years experience working in the sector, and where all the pre-school assistants in the service hold a relevant major award in childcare/early education at level 5 on the NFQ or its equivalent.   To apply for Higher Capitation please use ECCE form 10 – Application for Higher Capitation .

Please note that not all Level 7 or 8 awards are acceptable as qualifying for the higher capitation fee.  In order for an award to qualify, it must include significant content in core knowledge areas such as child development 0-6 years and early childhood education theory and practice.  For example, secondary school teaching qualifications are not acceptable as they do not cover these core knowledge areas.
Higher qualified staff attracting the higher capitation rate must work directly with the children at all times during the ECCE sessions.  If this rule is not observed, services are in breach of their contractual obligations, and will lose the higher capitation rate.


A document containing the responses to frequently-asked questions concerning qualifications is at Appendix 3.

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2.4    Staff Ratios

With effect from September 2012, new staff ratios apply in respect of the pre-school session element of services for service providers participating in the ECCE Programme. This also affects the space ratios and sanitary accommodation requirements.


The minimum number of pre-school leaders and assistants in the free Pre-School Year service is as follows:

Up to 11 children:  1 pre-school leader

12-22 children:  1 pre-school leader and 1 pre-school assistant

23-33 children:   2 pre-school leaders and 1 pre-school assistant

34-44 children:  2 pre-school leaders and 2 pre-school assistants
and so on.


For each maximum group size of up to 22 children in an ECCE setting there must be at least 1 pre-school leader who meets the qualification requirements outlined above (i.e. minimum NFQ Level 5 or equivalent).
Where the programme is provided to pre-school children in different rooms, a qualified pre-school leader must be present in all the rooms.  For example, if the programme is being delivered to 14 children in one room, and to 15 children in another room, there must be a pre-school leader and a pre-school assistant in both rooms.

The staff ratios outlined above apply to the sessional pre-school element of the service only, and only where all of the children in question are within the eligible age-range (i.e. where the children are between the ages of 2.5 years and 6 years).
Outside of the pre-school session, providers must apply the staff ratios in respect of full-time, part-time or sessional services as outlined in the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006.

Space/area ratios per child

In order to allow for the implementation of the new adult:child ratios, a new space/area requirement of 1.818m2 per child applies. This allows service providers to cater for additional children as set out below:

Current number of children/places in a setting

Additional children/places under new arrangements

Fewer than 10

0

10 - 19

1 additional place

20

Up to 2 additional places


The space/area requirement per child in all other instances remains unchanged.

Sanitary Accommodation

Where service providers are in a position to apply the new adult:child ratios outlined above, the number of WC/WHBs required will also change in line with the new ratios, i.e. for every 11 toilet-using children there must be 1 toilet and 1 wash hand basin.

 

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2.5    HSE compliance

Participating pre-school services are required to be notified to the Health Service Executive (HSE).  A list of all applicants for entry or re-entry to the programme is forwarded by the CCC to the local Pre-School Inspector.  The Inspector will advise the CCC where an applicant is not notified to them.  In addition, where a pre-school service is being prosecuted by the HSE for non-compliance with the Pre-School Regulations, the HSE will advise the Childcare Directorate of the position.  A service which has been closed for reasons of child welfare and protection, or which has been successfully prosecuted, may not be admitted to the programme.  Where these circumstances apply to a service already participating in the programme, the contract may be terminated.

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2.6    Contract

A list of all the applicant services which meet the requirements for entry to the programme will be submitted for approval of contract.   Two copies of the programme contracts will be issued to approved applicants.  The applicant is required to sign both copies of the contract and return them to their local CCC.  In the case of commercial providers, the contract must be signed by the owner of the service.  In the case of community providers, including School Boards of Management, the contract must be signed by a member of the Board of Management.

The CCCs collate all the signed contracts and return them to the Childcare Directorate.  Where all requirements have been fulfilled (e.g., copies of qualifications received and approved, tax clearance in order etc.) both copies of the contracts are signed by an authorised signatory in Childcare Directorate.  One copy is returned to the applicant and the other is placed on the applicant's file.  In general, this process is completed by the end of July each year.  However, a later date may be accepted where the Childcare Directorate considers this appropriate.

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2.7    Electronic Fund Transfer

Payments under the ECCE programme are made via electronic fund transfer.  To facilitate this, service providers must advise the Childcare Directorate of their bank account details using ECCE Form 8 – New Applicants EFT Form.  If a provider changes his or her bank account for any reason, s/he must notify the Childcare Directorate as soon as possible, using ECCE Form 9 – EFT Form, Change in Bank Details.

 

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2.8    Tax Clearance

Services are required to demonstrate tax compliance by providing a valid, up-to-date Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) from the Revenue Commissioners when returning their application form to the CCC.  The TCC must be in the name of the provider or the service; certificates in the name of another person will not be accepted.  Services participating in the programme are responsible for ensuring that a renewed TCC is provided to the Childcare Directorate when it falls due.


Where a service is awaiting a TCC at the time of application to enter the programme, this should be noted on the application form.  Contracts will not be entered into with service providers who cannot prove their tax compliance.  Where contracts are in place, payments in respect of ECCE services cannot be issued in the absence of an up-to-date Tax Clearance Certificate.

 

Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)

From 1st February 2014, bank sort codes and bank account numbers will be replaced by Bank Identifier Codes (BIC) and International Bank Account Numbers (IBAN).  For this reason, from September 2013 any service notifying the Department of its bank details will be required to provide the BIC and IBAN.  This requirement is included in the current version of EFT Forms 8 and 9.  The BIC and IBAN will be shown on your bank statement.

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2.9    Outstanding Debts to the Department

Each application is checked against the Childcare Directorate's database to confirm whether there is an outstanding debt due from the provider in respect of the ECCE programme, and contracts may not be entered into with services which have outstanding debts.  Where a contract is issued to such services, the debt will be automatically deducted from future payments due.

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2.10  Optional Additional Charges

It is a fundamental principle of the ECCE programme that participating service providers must operate the pre-school provision free to parents in return for the applicable capitation fee, and parents should be given access to the service where their child only attends the pre-school element.  However, service providers may charge parents for optional additional services as follows:


* hours which are additional to the free Pre-School Year requirement.  A sessional service provider,may offer an additional 30 minutes per day as an optional addition which can be charged for. 
This applies to sessional services only.  In the case of a full or part-time service, the service provider will offer additional hours to the pre-school provision which they will charge for.  A full day care or a part-time service may choose to give a free pre-school place to a child who will be availing of a full or part-time place over another child who only wishes to avail of the free pre-school element of the service, or may choose to only provide the free pre-school service to children attending either full-time or part-time, as applicable.  This information should be included in the service’s Enrolment Policy.


* optional additional services can also take the form of various one-off or on-going activities or services such as outings, specific teaching resources such as dance or music, and food, but must not include activities which would generally be regarded as a normal part of a pre-school service, e.g. general arts and crafts activities.


In all cases, service providers must ensure that parents are aware that their agreement to additional hours or to any optional charge is not compulsory, and that agreement to additional hours or optional charges is not a condition of initial or continued enrolment (except in the case of full-time or part-time services as outlined above).  In addition, appropriate programme-based activities must be provided to children not participating in an optional activity where such activities take place during the required period of pre-school provision.


Booking deposits may be taken from parents provided that the required deposit does not exceed four times the weekly capitation fee applicable to the service, and provided it is repaid to parents by the end of October 2013 (where the Childcare Directorate has confirmed that the child is entitled to participate in the programme).


The service provider may seek voluntary donations from parents, provided that such donations are not a condition of enrolment in the ECCE programme, and are anonymous.
The Guide to completing the ECCE fees policy, which will be sent to participating service providers by the local CCC, includes details relating to the rules governing optional additional charges and voluntary donations.

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2.11 Closure of services, moving premises, or transfer of ownership

Closure of service

Where a participating pre-school service closes in the course of a pre-school year, the provider must notify the Department and the local CCC immediately.  The CCC will advise in relation to placing the children in another service and the completion of transfer forms.  Any funding that has already been paid to the closing service for providing the pre-school year for a period beyond the date of closure must be repaid to the Department.  Capitation fees in respect of any children transferring to a new service will be transferred to the new service with effect from the date the child commences in that service.

Moving premises


Where a participating pre-school service moves premises in the course of a pre-school year, the provider must notify the Department and the local CCC immediately.  The Department and the CCC will require details of the new address and any changes in other contact details, such as telephone number or e-mail address.  A new contract will issue to the provider.  As a new reference number will be assigned to the service, transfer forms must be completed in respect of all children in the service, even where all of the children are transferring to the new premises.  The transfer forms must be returned to the Department.

Change of Ownership


Where there is a change of ownership of a service in the course of a pre-school year, this change must be notified to the Department and the local CCC as soon as possible.  A Change of Ownership form (ECCE Form 12 – Change of Ownership Form)must be completed, requiring input from and the signatures of both the original owner and the new owner.  In addition, the new owner must complete an ECCE application form and be approved for entry to the programme.  Both forms will be available from the CCC.  On approval, a new contract will be issued to the new owner.  As the new owner will be assigned a different reference number, transfer forms must be completed in respect of all children in the service, and returned to the Department.

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3. Eligibility Criteria

Children qualify for the free pre-school year where they are aged more than 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months at 1 September in the relevant pre-school year.  This means that children born between 2 February 2009 and 30 June 2010 (both dates inclusive) will qualify for the programme in September 2013.

 

To avail of the programme at any stage during the pre-school year commencing  Children must have been born between the following dates
(both dates inclusive)
September 2013  2 February 2009 and 30 June 2010
September 2014 2 February 2010 and 30 June 2011
September 2015 2 February 2011 and 30 June 2012

The objective of the ECCE programme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to eligible children in the year before they commence primary school.  To achieve this, services participating in the pre-school year are required to provide age-appropriate activities and programmes to children within a particular age cohort.  For this reason, it is necessary to set minimum and maximum limits to the age range within which children will qualify to participate in the programme.


There are no exceptions to the lower age-limit.


The upper age limit of 4 years 6 months may be extended where a child is not in a position to commence primary school until s/he is more than 5 years 7 months of age, due either to the enrolment policy of the local school or because s/he has been assessed as developmentally delayed.  Applications for an extension of the upper age limit will be examined on a case-by-case basis (see Section 8 of this Guide for more details).
Please note that under the Education and Welfare Act 2000 all children must be enrolled in a primary school by the time they reach their 6th birthday.  Therefore, a child who will reach the age of 6 in the course of the pre-school year commencing September 2013 will not be permitted to participate in the ECCE programme.  Parents should contact their local primary school or Special Education Needs Organiser (www.ncse.ie).
Each eligible child is entitled to one free pre-school year, which must be availed of in one continuous provision (e.g. from September 2013 to June 2014).  Children with special needs may avail of a pro-rata provision over two years, provided they fulfil certain conditions (see Section 8 of this Guide for more details).


The eligibility of each child enrolled in the ECCE programme will be verified through the Department of Social Protection by reference to the child’s date of birth and Personal Public Services Number (PPSN).  It is in the interest of service providers to request proof of a child’s date of birth and PPSN, as any errors in these details on the electronic return will result in payments being delayed while the details are being validated manually.  Proof of a child’s PPSN can take the form of a copy of an official document or card showing the child’s name and PPSN, e.g. a Drug Payment Scheme card, a Medical Card, or a letter from the Department of Social Protection.


The Department of Education and Skills provides an Early Start programme for pre-school children at risk of educational disadvantage.  Eligible children may be enrolled in either the Early Start programme or the ECCE programme.  Children are not eligible to be enrolled in both programmes.

Where a child who would be eligible for the ECCE programme is availing of the Home Tuition programme implemented by the Department of Education and Skills, the child may also be entitled to avail of some hours under the ECCE programme.  The parent should contact Childcare Directorate to check the position.

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4.    Electronic Returns


Services who are contract to deliver the ECCE programme must make an electronic return to the Childcare Directorate giving details of all the children participating in the programme.  Applicants who have entered into contract will receive a Returns Information Pack, normally in August.  This pack contains blank Parent Declaration forms / letters, instructions for completing and submitting the return, and the Service Declaration Form.  Services are required to distribute the letters and forms to parents early in September.  Parents should be instructed to return the completed forms to the service by a specified date, prior to the date on which the return is required to be completed.  The date by which the electronic return must be submitted will be indicated in the Returns Information Pack. 


The service’s unique e-form password and user ID, enabling the electronic return to be made, will be issued to the service by e-mail prior to the date on which the return is required.
The information required to be included on the return includes details of each child’s date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN).

When the service has submitted its electronic return, the provider should check with the CCC to confirm that the return has been received by the Childcare Directorate.
The completed Parental Declaration forms and the completed Service Declaration form must be returned to the Childcare Directorate as soon as possible following submission of the electronic return and after the service has confirmed with the local CCC that the electronic return has been received by Childcare Directorate.


The electronic returns from services are collated and examined by the Childcare Directorate.  The PPSNs of the children included on the return are sent to the Department of Social Protection for verification of the dates of birth.


On return from the Department of Social Protection, the verified data is transferred to the ECCE database.  The level of funding due to each service is calculated, and each service is sent (by e-mail) a list which includes details of the children included in their return, the level of service for each child, and the status of their verification.  This process is normally completed by the end of October each year.

If a child has been registered by a service on the electronic return, but has never actually attended the service, Childcare Directorate should be notified and no payment will be made in respect of that child.  The deposit received from the parent should cover any loss to the service.

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5.    Payments


Because the actual amount due in respect of capitation fees for the first term of the pre-school year will not be available until at least the end of October each year, an advance payment to services is made in late August.  The advance payment covers the capitation fee for the first 8 weeks of the September term.  In the case of services which participated in the programme during the previous year, the advance payment is calculated (as a maximum) on the basis of an 8 week payment for the number of children enrolled in the programme in that service in the previous year.  In the case of services new to the programme, the advance payment will be limited to an 8 week payment in respect of up to 5 children.  The issue of an advance payment is at the discretion of Childcare Directorate.
Following verification of the data provided in the electronic returns, a balancing payment is issued.  This payment covers the total amount due to the service for the first pre-school term based on the number of children actually attending the service, and verified by the Department of Social Protection as eligible for the programme, minus the advance payment already made and minus any overpayment carried forward from the previous contract period.  This balancing payment is usually made before the end of October.


Payment in respect of the January term is issued as early as possible in January; payment in respect of the April term is issued in early April.
Details of the pre-school terms and the expected payment dates for the ECCE contract period commencing in September 2013 will be on this website www.dcya.gov.ie closer to the time.
Service providers should note the following:


* Payments will not be made to services where the tax clearance certificate provided is out-of-date; it is the responsibility of the service provider to ensure that a current TCC has been submitted to Childcare Directorate.


* The main term payments (i.e. the payments in October, January and April) may not include adjustments in respect of children moving into or out of the service for any reason.  These adjustments have to be processed manually, and may not have been processed by the time the main term payment is calculated, which is usually about a week before the payment issues.  Where an additional payment is due to providers in respect of a transfer, this will be paid as soon as possible.  Where a decrease in payment applies, this amount will be deducted from future payments due.

* Where it is not possible to deduct overpayments from future payments due within a particular contract period (i.e. if the funding due to the provider will be insufficient to recover the overpayment), service providers will be required to repay the amount by refunding the funds directly to the Childcare Directorate.  Contracts will not be issued to providers in respect of future contract periods where outstanding overpayments have not been refunded, or where arrangements for repayment have not been agreed with the Childcare Directorate.

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6.    Changes in enrolment details after the Electronic Returns have been submitted

6.1    New/Late Entrants

Where a child joins the pre-school service after the beginning of the September term, and has not been included on the electronic return, a new entrant application form must be completed (ECCE Form 1 – New Entrant Form).  The completed form, which requires input from both the service provider and the parent, must be sent to the Childcare Directorate, together with a copy of the child’s birth certificate or passport and a copy of official proof of the child’s PPSN (i.e. a copy of an official document or card showing the child’s name and PPSN, e.g. a Drug Payment Scheme card, a Medical Card, or a letter from the Department of Social Protection).  When the details have been checked and verified, the additional payment due to the service provider will issue as soon as possible.

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6.2    Transferring from one Service Provider to another

Parents may choose to transfer their children from one service to another at any stage in the pre-school year.  However, in order to exercise this option, the parent must give notice of the transfer request to the first provider at least 4 weeks in advance of the date of transfer.  (Please note that the 4 week notice period must be ECCE programme weeks, i.e. they cannot include Christmas, Easter or mid-term breaks.) Parents are required to complete a transfer form ECCE Form 2 – Transfer Form) which should also be completed by the manager of the existing service, and then by the manager of the new service.  The form must then be submitted to the Childcare Directorate so that the capitation fee for the child can be transferred.  The capitation fee will be transferred from the first service provider to the second service provider with effect from the date of the transfer.  For this reason, both the first and the second service providers should ensure that the correct date of transfer is recorded on the form.  Any capitation fee already issued to the first service provider in respect of that child for a period following the date of transfer will be deducted from future payments due to that service.


If the form has not been fully and properly completed, processing of the transfer request will be delayed.   Parents and service providers are advised to ensure that the transfer form is fully completed and signed by all relevant parties.


If a child is registered as transferring into a service under the ECCE programme, but never actually attends that service, Childcare Directorate must be notified and no payment will be made in respect of that child.
Where a child has not attended a service for a period of 4 weeks, the provider must contact the Childcare Directorate to advise them of the position, by completing and returning ECCE Form 3 - Child Leaving ECCE .

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6.3 Settling-In Period

Cases may arise where a parent, having enrolled his/her child in the ECCE programme with a particular service provider, may subsequently decide either that the child is not ready to start pre-school, or that s/he would prefer to enrol the child with a different service provider.  To facilitate this, a “Settling-In Period” is permitted at the beginning of each contract period.  During this period a parent may remove his/her child from a service and either (a) defer the child’s place to the following year or (b) transfer the child to a different service provider.  In such circumstances, the following arrangements relating to capitation fees will apply:

* The Settling-In Period covers the first four weeks of the September term only.  This means that, in relation to the September 2013 contract period, the Settling-In Period finishes on Friday 27th September 2013.

* If the parent decides to defer the ECCE place to the following year, a deferral form (ECCE Form 7 – Deferral Form) must be completed, signed by both the parent and the service provider, and returned to the Childcare Directorate.  The arrangements regarding the capitation fee in cases of deferral are outlined in section 6.9.


* If the parent decides to transfer the child to another service provider within the Settling-In Period, a transfer form (ECCE Form 11 – Settling-In Transfer Form) must be completed, signed and dated by all parties ON OR BEFORE FRIDAY 27th SEPTEMBER 2013 and returned to the Childcare Directorate.  In these circumstances, the first service provider will receive a capitation fee in respect of that child for not more than the first four weeks of the term, with the second service provider receiving the capitation fee for the remainder of the term.


If a child is registered with the new service but never actually attends that service, Childcare Directorate must be notified and no payment will be made in respect of that child.
Once the Settling-In Period has concluded, all transfers must be dealt with in accordance with the procedures outlined in section 6.2 above.

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6.4    Child ceasing to avail of the ECCE programme and Child returning to the ECCE programme

Where a child leaves a service and is not enrolled in a new service, the provider must contact the Childcare Directorate within 4 weeks to advise them of the position, by completing and returning ECCE Form 3 – Child leaving ECCE Programme.   This situation will normally arise where the child is leaving the country, or starting primary school.  Where the circumstances are known to the service provider, they should be noted on the form.
Where such circumstances arise, any ECCE funding already paid by the Childcare Directorate in respect of the child will be deducted from future payments due.  The amount of the deduction will depend on the date on which the child ceased attending the pre-school service.

Where a child enrolled in the ECCE programme has not attended the service for four consecutive weeks for any reason other than the circumstances outlined in the previous paragraphs, the service provider must contact Childcare Directorate immediately to notify them of the position by completing and returning ECCE Form 3.  If the child returns to the service to resume participation in the ECCE programme, payment will be restored following submission by the service provider of a completed and signed ECCE Form 13 – Child returning to ECCE programme.  The date from which the payment is restored will be determined by the Department, and will depend on the circumstances of the case.  If the parent wishes to defer the child’s place to the following year, this will be subject to the procedures outlined in section 6.9.

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6.5    Transfer from the ECCE programme to the Community Childcare Subvention Programme (CCS), or from the CCS to the ECCE programme

There is no entitlement to transfer from the ECCE programme to the CCS, or vice versa in the course of the September to August period other than in the circumstances described in paragraphs 6.5.1, 6.5.2, and 6.5.3 below.

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6.5.1. Settling-In Transfer from the ECCE programme to the CCS programme


Where a child has commenced the ECCE programme in September, but the parent decides to avail of the CCS programme instead, a CCS Form 4 – Settling In Transfer form must be completed by the ECCE service provider and the parent.  Such transfers must take place before 27th September 2013.  A CCS Parent Declaration form must also be completed by the parent during the CCS snapshot week.  If the child does not appear on the CCS electronic return, the transfer will not be permitted.
If the child will still be within the eligible age-range to avail of the ECCE programme in the following pre-school year, ECCE Form 7 – Deferral form (see section 6.9 below) must be completed in order for the child to be permitted to avail of the programme the following year.

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6.5.2. Transfer from the CCS programme to the ECCE programme between January and March 2014

A CCS to ECCE transfer, from a CCS service provider to an ECCE service provider, will be permitted between 1st November 2013 and 11th April 2014 provided the CCS provider agrees to the CCS funding in respect of that child being stopped with effect from the date of transfer.  If eligible, the child will then be permitted to participate in the ECCE programme.  A CCS Form 6 – CCS to ECCE transfer form must be completed and returned to Childcare Directorate together with a copy of the child’s birth certificate or passport, and official proof of the child’s PPSN.  If the CCS provider refuses the transfer request, no ECCE funding in respect of that child can be paid to the new provider.

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6.5.3. Transfer from the ECCE programme to the CCS programme between January and March 2014

 A child may leave the ECCE programme at any time. However there are no new places allowed in the CCS programme after the e-return has been completed in October 2013. Therefore, no transfers between the ECCE programme to the CCS programme are permitted after the e-return has been submitted.

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6.6    Transfer from the ECCE programme to the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme

Where a child who was included in the ECCE programme return takes up a new place under the CETS programme, either within the same childcare service or in a different service, his or her entitlement to ECCE should immediately be transferred to CETS by completing and returning ECCE Form 4 – Transfer from ECCE to CETS Form to the Childcare Directorate.  If the CETS placement ceases, and the child is to be transferred back to the ECCE programme, ECCE Form 5 – Transfer back to ECCE from CETS must be completed and returned to the Childcare Directorate.


Where the child is taking up a CETS place in a different childcare service, the childcare service where the child had been enrolled for the ECCE programme is entitled to continue to receive the ECCE capitation fee for a period of four weeks after the commencement of the CETS place.  Where the child is taking up a CETS place in the same childcare service, the ECCE capitation will cease with effect from the date the CETS place starts.

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6.7    Transfer from CETS programme to ECCE programme

If a child is in a CETS place from the start of the pre-school year and the placement ends at a later point in the pre-school year, he or she may enter the ECCE programme in the same service or a different service on submission to Childcare Directorate of the completed ECCE Form 1 – New Entrant Form.  The service provider of the service where the child was availing of the CETS place should notify the local CCC that the CETS place has ceased.

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6.8 Change in level of service

Where a parent wishes to increase or decrease the number of days a child is attending per week, ECCE Form 6 – Change in Level of Service Form must be completed and returned to Childcare Directorate.  The resulting increase or decrease in capitation will be applied to the service provider’s payments with effect from the date on which the change in level of service took place, as noted on the form and signed off by both the service provider and the parent.

 

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6.9    Deferral of ECCE place to the following year

Where a parent, having enrolled a child in the ECCE programme, subsequently decides that it would be more beneficial for the child to defer the pre-school year until the following year, s/he may apply for a deferral. Such applications require completion and submission of ECCE Form 7 – Deferral Form and can only be made where the child will still fulfil the eligibility criteria for admission to the programme in the September of the following year. If the deferral application is approved, any capitation fees already paid to the service provider in respect of that child will be recouped from the service provider by the Department. For this reason, the deferral application form must be signed by the service provider as well as the parent.

Please note that applications for deferral will only be accepted in the course of the first two terms (i.e. up to Easter) of the pre-school year.
Example:  A parent starts their child in the ECCE programme in the first week of September, and then decides in the 5th week of the first term that his/her child is not ready for pre-school, and notifies the service immediately.
As this child will already have benefited from the pre-school service for five weeks, it will be up to the service provider and the parent to agree arrangements in respect of fees due.  Such arrangements may need to take account of the provider’s terms and conditions of enrolment with regard to the giving of notice, refund of deposits etc.  A deferral form is then completed and signed by both parties and submitted to the DCYA.  On receipt of the completed form, the DCYA will deduct any funding already paid to the service in respect of the child.
It should be noted that, once the deferral form has been signed by both parties, the DCYA will proceed on the basis that agreement in respect of any fees due to the service has been reached.

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6.10    Appeals

Where it has not been possible for the Childcare Directorate to verify the eligibility of a child for the ECCE programme (generally due to the provision of an incorrect PPSN), capitation fees will not be paid to the service provider in respect of that child.  Parents or service providers may appeal this by writing to the Childcare Directorate, providing evidence of the child's date of birth and PPSN (i.e. a copy of the child’s birth cert and a copy of an official document or card showing the child’s name and PPSN, e.g. a Drug Payment Scheme card, a Medical Card, or a letter from the Department of Social Protection).  The correspondence should be marked “ECCE Appeals”.


Each appeal is examined and, where entitlement is established, the child is approved for participation in the programme and the appropriate payment will issue to the service provider.

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 7. Compliance


Services participating in the ECCE programme must permit representatives and agents of the Department to visit the facility and inspect financial and other records for the purpose of confirming the service’s compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the programme.  From September 2013, all such inspections will be unannounced.  In addition, the Parent Declaration Forms will include provision for the parent to agree that a representative or agent of the Department may contact him/her to discuss issues regarding the delivery of the programme to their child.  Such issues may include the notification to parents of optional additional charges, or the pattern of attendance of their child. 

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8.    Applications to waive the upper age limit and for pro-rata arrangements for children with special needs

Children with special needs

Parents who wish to apply for a waiver of the upper age limit or to avail of the pre-school year on a pro-rata basis over two years (e.g. 2 days per week in year 1 and 3 days per week in year 2) on the grounds that their child has special needs, must apply in writing to the Childcare Directorate not later than 1st July of each year.

The Childcare Directorate will require the following details before making a decision:
i) a copy of the child's Birth Certificate
ii) evidence of the child’s PPSN (i.e. a copy of an official document or card showing the child’s name and PPSN, e.g. a Drug Payment Scheme card, a Medical Card, or a letter from the Department of Social Protection).
iii) the name and address of the pre-school service in which the child will be enrolled,
AND
(iv) a detailed assessment report from the HSE, or treating consultant confirming that the child has special needs which will either delay his/her entry to primary school or make it more suitable that s/he avails of the pre-school year on a pro-rata basis over two years.

School admission policies

Parents may apply for a waiver of the upper age limit where their child will not be able to commence primary school until they are aged at least 5 years and 7 months, due to the local primary schools' admissions policies, on condition that the child has not already availed of the ECCE Programme.
Applications should be made to the Childcare Directorate not later than 1st July each year.  The Directorate will require the following details before making a decision:
i) a copy of the child's Birth Certificate
ii) evidence of the child’s PPSN (i.e. a copy of an official document or card showing the child’s name and PPSN, e.g. a Drug Payment Scheme card, a Medical Card, or a letter from the Department of Social Protection).
iii) the name and address of the pre-school service in which the child will be enrolled,
AND
(iv) a letter from the Principal of the local primary school confirming the age admissions policy.
Please note that under the Education and Welfare Act 2000 all children must be enrolled in a primary school by the time they reach their 6th birthday.  Therefore, a child who will reach the age of 6 in the course of the pre-school year commencing September 2013 will not be permitted to participate in the ECCE programme.  Parents should contact their local primary school or Special Education Needs Organiser (www.ncse.ie).

Childcare Directorate
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
July 2013

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Appendix 1 – Forms

ECCE Form 1 – New Entrant Form

ECCE Form 2 – Transfer Form  (from ECCE to ECCE)

ECCE Form 3 – Child leaving ECCE Programme

ECCE Form 4 – Transfer from ECCE to CETS Form

ECCE Form 5 – Transfer back to ECCE from CETS

ECCE Form 6 – Change in Level of Service Form

ECCE Form 7 – Deferral Form

ECCE Form 8 – New Applicants EFT Form

ECCE Form 9 – EFT Form, Change in Bank Details

ECCE form 10 - Higher Capitation

ECCE Form 11 – Settling-in Transfer Form   (from ECCE to ECCE)

ECCE Form 12 – Change of Ownership Form

ECCE Form 13 - Child returning to the ECCE Programme

CCS Form 4 – Settling in Transfer Form (from ECCE to CCS)


CCS Form 6 - CCS to ECCE Transfer form 

 

Appendix 2 – City/County Childcare Committees (CCCs)

Contact details for City/County Childcare Committees

 

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 Appendix 3 – Qualifications – Frequently Asked Questions

 FAQ Document - Qualifications

 

 

 

 

 

 

follow us on twitter skills to work Supporting SMEs http://whodoeswhat.gov.ie/ 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