In January 2010 a universally available preschool year was introduced.
The ECCE programme is a universal two-year preschool 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 is available to all children who have turned 2 years and 8 months before September as long as they don't turn 5 years and 6 months at any point during the preschool year.
Child care services taking part in the ECCE programme must provide an appropriate preschool educational programme which adheres to the principles of Síolta, the national framework for early years care and education.
The programme is provided in both community and private crèches.
Find out more about the free preschool year.
The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) was launched in June 2016 with children benefitting from these supports from September 2016.
AIM is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the ECCE programme. Its goal is to empower preschool providers to deliver an inclusive preschool experience, ensuring that every eligible child can fully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of quality early years care and education.
AIM is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the preschool setting.
The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme is a child care programme targeted to support parents on a low income to avail of reduced child care costs at participating community child care services.
The department pays for a portion of the child care costs for eligible children, a payment described as a subvention payment, with the parent paying the rest.
CCS is only available through participating community not-for-profit child care services.
CCS subvention is available for 52 weeks of the year.
The CCS programme covers the academic year, starting in September and finishing in August. This is referred to as the Programme year.
The Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCS Plus) Programme provides support for parents on a low income to avail of reduced child care costs at participating privately owned child care services and at community not-for-profit child care services.
The department pays a portion of the child care costs for eligible children, (a subvention payment), with the parent paying the rest.
The CCS Plus programme covers the academic year, starting in September and finishing in August. This is referred to as the Programme year.
As part of the government policy to make child care more affordable, the department has introduced a universal child care subvention payment of up to €20 per week for families using eligible child care providers for the care of children aged from 6 months to the first eligible point of entry to the ECCE scheme.
This scheme is administered via an enhancement to the CCS scheme.
To support Programme Refugees in their resettlement and integration into Irish society, child care funding for this group is incorporated into the existing CCS and CCSP Programmes. This enables parents to be free to attend a language and orientation course within their reception centre for eight weeks and then for a full year following their move into the community (ie 60 weeks in total).
This special provision under the current Community Childcare Subvention Programme, entitled CCSR (Transitional), provides access to free child care for children of families experiencing homelessness.
The provision provides subvention for all preschool children, including those of ECCE eligible age range aged 0-5 inclusive.
The scheme is also designed to help those transitioning from homelessness to permanent accommodation.
The objective of the Training and Employment Childcare Programmes is to support parents on eligible training courses and eligible categories of parents returning to work, by providing subsidised child care places.
Childcare Education and Training Support Programme
The Childcare Education and Training Support Programme formerly catered for FAS and VEC training course participants.
It provides child care on behalf of the local education and training boards and secondary schools.
After-School Child Care Programme
The After-School Child Care Programme provides afterschool care for primary school children for certain categories of working parents and parents on department employment programmes, not including Community Employment.
Community Employment Childcare Programme
The Community Employment Childcare Programme provides child care for children of parents who are participating in Community Employment schemes.
The TEC programmes will remain open for new registrations until February 2020 - this is an extension to the previously announced October deadlineDownload