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What is ECCE?

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The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age.

Children can start ECCE when they are 2 years and 8 months of age and continue until they transfer to primary school (provided that they are not older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the pre-school year) - see 'Is my child eligible for ECCE' below.

The State pays participating playschools and daycare services a set amount per child for the ECCE service. In return, participating centres and playschools provide a pre-school service free of charge to all children within the qualifying age range. The service is for a set number of hours over a set period of weeks see ‘How the ECCE scheme is provided’ below.

You may get financial support from the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) towards the cost of childcare for the hours spent outside of ECCE.

Your child cannot be enrolled in the ECCE Programme and Early Start Programme at the same time.

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