The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme is designed to give children access to one free preschool year before they begin primary school. According to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, children who attend a preschool are more likely to be ready for school and a formal learning environment.
The programme is open to every child in the country, and runs for 38 weeks, five days a week, for three hours each day. Each child is entitled to one year of free education, with exceptions in some cases.
Parents can choose from approximately 4,500 participating preschool services around the country. These schools are paid a capitation fee by the government for each child enrolled.
The ECCE programme is open to all children aged between 3 years 2 months, and 4 years 7 months on 1st September of the relevant year.
Children hoping to participate in the programme in September 2014 must have been born between 2nd February 2010 - 30th June 2011. Those wishing to participate next September 2015 must have been born between 2 February 2011 - 30th June 2012.
If your child has special needs, delaying his/her entry into primary school, it may be possible to spread the ECCE programme across two years. In these cases, children may take 2 days a week in their first year and 3 days a week in their second year, or vice versa. All children will still receive the same amount of time in total of free preschool education
It is easy to sign up for the ECCE programme. Simply complete a form in the participating preschool of your choice, filling in all the necessary information. You will be required to produce documents in order to prove your child’s date of birth and confirm their PPSN. A birth certificate or passport and a drug payment scheme card or medical card will be accepted.
It is possible to move your child from one preschool to another during the programme. However, you must give the preschool you are moving your child from 4 weeks notice before the move. If you fail to do this, Fees must be paid for 4 weeks in your childs new preschool, while the old one receives four weeks of ECCE payment.
Contact your local City or County Childcare Committee for more information. Download contact details here:
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Need help choosing a preschool for your child? Check out our tips here. Alternatively, learn about the different types of preschool here.