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Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE)

Published: 13 March 2019
From: Department of Children and Youth Affairs

The Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) programme is a universal two-year pre-school 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 is one point of entry at the beginning of the programme year. The programme will be available to all children who have turned 2 years and 8 months of age before September 1st as long they won’t turn 5 years and 6 months of age on or before June 30th of the programme year.

Childcare services taking part in the ECCE programme must provide an appropriate pre-school educational programme which adheres to the principles of Síolta, the national framework for early years care and education.

Eligibility for ECCE

The programme is available to all children from the September after the child has turned 2 years and 8 months.

This table shows the eligibility for ECCE by year of birth.

    Birth date between ECCE start date ECCE end date
    1st January 2015 - 31st December 2015 1st September 2018 +1st September 2019 June 2020
    1st January 2016 - 31st December 2016 1st September 2019 + 1st September 2020 June 2021
    1st January 2017 - 31st December 2017 1st September 2020 + 1st September 2021 June 2022
    1st January 2018 - 31st December 2018 1st September 2021 + 1st September 2022 June 2023
    1st January 2019 - 31st December 2019 1st September 2022 + 1st September 2023 June 2024

More information on the ECCE and other childcare funding programmes are outlined in the document below:

Rules for ECCE Programme 2019/20


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 below:

Minimum ECCE Enrolment Exemptions


2019-20 Programme Year ECCE Minimum numbers Exemption Application Form


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