Question: How do I access the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme for my two-year-old child?
Answer: The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides free early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age. It gives children their first formal experience of early learning before starting primary school.
Read also: See more Kildare stories
Your child can start ECCE when they are two years and eight months of age and continue until they transfer to primary school (once they are not older than five years and six months at the end of the pre-school year). The Department of Children and Youth Affairs’ eligibility calendar shows when your child can participate in the ECCE Scheme.
If your child has special needs they may be able to get an exemption from the upper age limit. If you have a child with a disability, you can also apply for additional supports under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) — you can find more information on aim.gov.ie.
Children can only enrol in pre-school in September. The ECCE Scheme runs from September to June for three hours a day, five days a week. If your child attends a childcare service (crèche, playschool, naíonra, Montessori or parent and toddler group) for longer than this each day or for extra weeks outside the school year (38 weeks) you have to pay for these extra hours.
To get a place for your child, apply to a participating playschool or day care centre. You can get a list of participating services from your local City or County Childcare Committee (CCC) on myccc.ie. You will need your child's birth certificate/ passport/PPS number.
Further information is available from citizensinformation.ie and the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. Information is also available from your local Citizens Information Office at: Newbridge CIC, Cutlery Road, tel: 0761 07 8300; Naas CIC, Basin Street; tel: 0761 07 8280.