Free Preschool improvements for children, parents and providers this September Statement


Free Preschool improvements for children, parents and providers this September
Statement by Minister Katherine Zappone


●    Childcare providers to receive 7% increase in payments for ECCE (free pre-school) from September
●    Top payment to rise to €80.25 per child per week, an increase of €5.25 per week per child.
●    c.120,000 children registered on the universal scheme
●    Eligibility for the scheme will be extended to two years (76 weeks) from September. 


Wednesday 15th August 2018

Children, parents and providers are set to benefit from improvements to the free pre-school ECCE scheme from this September, according to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

Childcare providers throughout the country will receive an increase of 7% in their capitation payments for the ECCE preschool programme in September. 

 Approximately 120,000 children benefited from this universal scheme last year which offers 15 hours per week of free preschool to children across the school year. The scheme is being extended from September to offer up to two years (76 weeks) to every child from the age of two years and eight months until they start in school. 

Childcare providers will see the weekly payments for children registered on the scheme rise by 7% to as much as €80.25 where staff have degrees, or €69 where staff have the minimum qualification of Level 5 and 6. 
The additional funding was secured by Minister Zappone as part of the Budget 2018 negotiations as a step towards improving the working conditions of childcare workers and therefore the quality of care and education received by children. 

Speaking on the matter Minister Zappone noted: 

“Much has been achieved over the past year with regards to achieving our goal to transform childcare in Ireland. 

The infrastructure for the new Affordable Childcare Scheme is beginning to take shape. The State’s first piece of legislation enabling the subsidisation of childcare has been passed. The contract for the development of the IT system for the new scheme has been awarded. 

The affordability measures introduced last September to lower childcare costs have benefited over 80,000 children and their families. More children than ever are benefiting from Government schemes. Access to high quality and affordable childcare remains a Government priority and is critical to ensure continued economic growth.”

In relation to the increase in ECCE capitation being introduced, the Minister went on to say,  “Children and families availing of formal childcare need and deserve high quality services delivered by valued and respected early years practitioners. I hope that this increase in capitation can be used by employers to improve the pay and conditions of these personnel who  make  such a  positive impact on our childrens most important, formative years.”


Note to editors 

●    118,794 children were registered on the ECCE (free preschool) programme at the end of the 2017 /2018 academic year. 
●    During the 2017/2018 academic year, 80,009 children benefited from the government’s other childcare subvention schemes. 
●    Almost all centre-based childcare providers offer the ECCE programme, first introduced in 2010. 
●    Currently childcare providers receive either €64.50 or €75 per week per child registered depending on the qualification of the staff member leading room, with qualifications at Level 7 or above ( degree status) attracting the higher rate and incentivising higher quality service provision. 
●    From September 2018, the new capitation rate will be €69 and €80.25 per child per week respectively ( up 7% or €4.50 and €5.25 respectively). 
●    A childcare service with 20 children participating in ECCE will receive between €3,500- €4,000 additional funding per annum depending on qualifications of ECCE room leaders in the service. Due to the expansion of ECCE to a full two years, providers may also have more children in their service across the full academic year.