ECCE 2018 Eligibility

Child Age Eligibility Requirements:

Details of the new ECCE programme announced in budget 2018.

* 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.


Deposits and Capacity:

  • Pre-school providers may charge a deposit to hold a place for the expanded ECCE programme, which is refundable when the child’s entitlement to the free pre-school year is confirmed.
  • Services may be able to hold a place from the beginning of the Pre-School Year (September) until the child becomes eligible to participate.  Services may choose to prioritise children who are fee-payinguntil they become eligible to participate in the programme.
  • If there is no space for a 5-day week pre-school place, or a parent does not wish for a child to attend pre-school for 5 days then there is an option to attend on a part-time basis.  The funding will only be paid to the service for the days the child attends.  Services can however prioritise places for a child who attends for the 5-day week.
  • If a service only has the capacity to have one pre-school room/session which is full, parents can choose to avail of the free pre-school session at another service or remain in the service of their choice but be fee-paying.
  • If a service providers decides to expand their service to offer a second pre-school session, both sessions must be delivered 3 hours per day, 5 days per week.
  • Check your existing planning permissionif you want to expand your service in any way, for example, by increasing numbers of children or expanding opening hours.  If unsure, contact Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council for clarification (01) 2054700.

Ratio’s and Rates:

  • There is no change to current 1:11 ratio for the duration of the pre-school session.
  • The capitation rate is to be restored to the 2012 rate of €64.50 per week per child for the standard ratewhere all staff working with children in the service are qualified to at least a Level 5 (or equivalent) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and the pre-school leader is qualified to at least a Level 6 NFQ (or equivalent).
  • The higher capitation rate will be restored to €75 per week per childwhere all staff working with children in the service are qualified to at least a Level 5 (or equivalent) on the NFQ and the pre-school leader is qualified to at least a Level 7 NFQ (or equivalent).  Further information on Higher Capitation is available on
  • Currently all ECCE room leaders must have a Level 7 for the service to be in receipt of the higher capitation.  Whatever the qualification requirement is in the first ECCE room, the qualification requirement will be the same in any additional ECCE rooms.

Children with disabilities:

  • The expanded ECCE programme commenced in September 2016.
  • Exemptions granted in 2017 for a pro-rata split between 2016/2017 and 2017/18 programme will still apply and children can avail of up to 5 days pre-school where appropriate.
  • From September 2016, a new model “Supporting Access to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for Children with a Disability” was introduced.  This model of supports includes continuing professional development for early years workers, grants for equipment and alteration for services.
  • All applications for children with special needs must be approved by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in advance.  Applications must be received before July 1st  and should be addressed to:  The Childcare Directorate, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 43-49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4.
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