Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)


The Free Pre-School Year in the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) is a universal childcare programme designed to give children access to up to 2 years free pre-school education before they start primary school.



Parent’s wishing to enrol their child for the ECCE programme can register with an Early Year’s provider of their choice. To see a list of services visit the Childcare Search Directory on our homepage. Once you have found this list of services, we would advise you to make contact with the childcare facilities to see if they offer the ECCE programme and if they have a place available.



Is my child eligible for the ECCE Programme?

Please see the ECCE Calculator above to check your child's eligibility.

The following poster can tell you when your child is eligible for ECCE:

*Children born between 1st January and 31st December 2014 will continue to be eligible for free pre-school under the terms of the ECCE expansion as announced in Budget 2016. ECCE eligibility criteria as announced under Budget 2018 will come into effect with effect from 1st September 2018.


PLEASE NOTE: Changes to ECCE 2018 were announced in the 2017 Budget.

For details and guidance on these changes see DCYA's FAQs on Early Years Budget 2018 Changes: 


Further information on the ECCE Programme is available on the links below:

Department of Children and Youth Affairs: Rules for DCYA Childcare Funding Programmes: Click Here

DCYA Early Childhood Care and Education information: Click Here




A Parent's Guide to the National Childcare Funding Programmes 2018/2019


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