Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Early Childhood Care and Education
The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme is a universal free two-year pre-school programme available to all children within the eligible age range.
The minimum eligibility age for the ECCE programme was revised in September 2018 when it was reduced from 3 years to 2 years and 8 months. The revised minimum of 2 years and 8 months was chosen based on national experience and a review of international practice.
Some children will not be able to commence their ECCE in September of the programme year as they will not have reached the age of 2 years and 8 months on or before 31st August. However, they will be able to commence ECCE the following September, and will be eligible for two years of ECCE.
Parents may prefer for their children to start school at age 4 rather than 5 years and may therefore choose to avail of one year of ECCE only. This is the parents choice to make. ECCE is not a mandatory scheme and a parent may choose to send to their child for one year only, or not at all.
The following table below sets out eligibility for ECCE by month/year of birth.
|Birth date between||ECCE Start Date||ECCE end date|
|1st January 2017 - 31st December 2017||1st September 2020 + 1st September 2021||June 2022|
|1st January 2018 - 31st December 2018||1st September 2021 + 1st September 2022||June 2023|
|1st January 2019 - 31st December 2019||1st September 2022 + 1st September 2023||June 2024|
|1st January 2020 – 31st December 2020||1st September 2023 + 1st September 2024||June 2025|
|1st January 2021 – 31st December 2021||1st September 2024 + 1st September 2025||June 2026|