What is the Free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education?

The ECCE programme is designed to give children access to free pre-school  of appropriate programme-based activities for up to 2 years before they start primary school.  Participation in a pre-school programme provides children with their first formal experience of early learning, the starting-point of their educational and social development outside the home.  Children who avail of pre-school are more likely to be ready for school and a formal learning and social environment.  All Hopscotch centres are registered to provide this scheme where we use the Montessori method of teaching for these sessions.

When will my child be eligible to participate in the ECCE programme?

With effect from 1st September 2016, children can avail of the ECCE scheme for up to two years prior to starting primary school, depending on the date the child turned three years old. Once your child has turned three years old, there are three entry points during which a child can join the scheme. These entry points are 1st January, 1st April and 1st September of each year.

The examples below may assist you with in ascertaining when your child will be eligible:

If born within these dates below: Your child can join the ECCE scheme at the entry point below:
April 2014 to August 2014 September 2017
September 2014 to December 2014 January 2018
January 2015 to March 2015 April 2018
April 2015 to August 2015 September 2018
September 2015 to December 2015 January 2019
January 2016 to March 2016 April 2019

The ECCE scheme provides for a free placement of up to 15 hours per week for 38 weeks in line with the school term. The normal schedule for the free pre-school year is 3 hours per day over 38 weeks. However, children attending on a full-time/part-time schedule who are eligible for the ECCE pre-school year will receive the ECCE grant deducted from their monthly fees.

Once your child is three years of age, and has joined the ECCE scheme at the relevant entry point, they can remain in the scheme until they start primary school, at either four or five years of age. In delivering the ECCE scheme to all our Preschool children, Hopscotch Childcare adheres to the principles of Síolta and Aistear, the national framework for early years care and education.

All Hopscotch Childcare centres are registered for the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) Government Pre School Scheme.