Early Childhood Care and Education ( ECCE) Scheme questions and answers
When does the scheme start?
- The scheme started in early January 2010.
What are the age limits for the children?
- Children qualify in the year that they are aged three years and three months to four years and six months at 1 September. Interpreting this as generously as possible, this means that children born between 2 February 2005 and 30 June 2006 qualify in January 2010 and children born between 2 February 2006 and 30 June 2007 will qualify in September 2010. ( The upper age range is extended where children are developmentally delayed or where necessary to accommodate a school's admissions policy.)
Are creches/ childminders involved in the scheme, or is it only playschools/ pre-schools?
- The scheme is open to both daycare and play school services.
Do all pre-schools automatically offer this?
- The majority of pre-school services provide programme-based activities for preschool children. Approximately 80pc of services have entered the scheme, which requires them to have qualifi ed pre-school leaders and to adhere to the principles of Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Learning.
Can my local pre-school refuse to offer this scheme?
- Pre-school services are privately operated and it is open to them to enter the scheme
How do parents apply for the scheme?
- Parents should contact their local pre-school service to enrol their child. The 33 city and county childcare committees can assist parents with further information in regard to local services.
Is it means tested?
- No, the ECCE scheme is universal and children qualify when they are within the eligible ag e range.
How does the scheme work – does the money go to parents or the pre-school?
- Participating services are paid a capitation fee for each qualifying child enrolled in their service for the pre-school year in return for providing a free pre-school year place.
What does it mean for parents in terms of financial savings?
- Parents using the play school model will be able to avail of a free pre-school year place for their children, generally for three hours per day, five days per week over the course of the primary school year. The service will, normally, be paid 2,450 per annum or 64.50 per week per place. Parents using the daycare model will avail of a free pre-school year place for their children, generally provided for two hours 15 minutes per day, five days a week over the course of the year. The service will receive 2,425 per annum or 48.50 per week per place and the parents' daycare fees will reduce by this amount.
How many hours per week/ weeks per year are offered by the scheme?
- Fifteen hours per week over 38 weeks in the play school model and 11 hours 15 minutes over 50 weeks in the daycare model.
If the child stays in pre-school for longer than the allotted hours, do parents have to pay extra for the remaining time?
- Services are free to charge parents for additional services such as additional hours over and above the free pre-school year provision.
How many children do the Government expect to be catered for under the scheme?
- In January 2010, initial figures indicate that 51,000 children – that is 80pc of children in the year before school – will avail of the scheme.
Answers provided by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
Mother & Babies