ECCE Scheme

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 Two years and eight months on the 1st September they can join the scheme. The entry point is the 1st September of each year.

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

Birth date between Eligible Enrolment date(s) ECCE end date
1st January 2015 – 31st December 2015 1st September 2018 + 1st September 2019 June 2020
1st January 2016 – 31st December 2016 1st September 2019 + 1st September 2020 June 2021
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 2019 – 31st December 2019 1st September 2022 + 1st September 2023 June 2024

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 as a deduction from their monthly fees.

Once your child is 2 yrs 8 months 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.