From September 2016, every child in Ireland will be able to start pre-school at age three, and to remain in pre-school until they start primary school.
Currently, children between the age of 3 years and 2 months, and 4 years and 7 months, are eligible for a year’s free pre-school (38 weeks) through the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. Children will be able to enrol in pre-school at three different points in the year – September, January and April. In line with this expansion of free pre-school, capitation payments to providers will be fully restored to pre-2012 levels (€64.50 or for higher capitation €75.00).
This initiative will better integrate the educational experience of young children, providing a smoother transition between pre- and primary school. Children who are currently enrolled for the free pre-school programme (i.e. on the basis of the eligibility criteria which applied in September this year) will be able to continue in the programme in September 2016 – once they are not older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the current pre-school year i.e. June 2017).
If a child is eligible under the 2015 ECCE criteria and is not registered on the ECCE programme, children can now be registered on PIP to avail of ECCE in 2015 and 2016, as long as the age criteria of not being older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the 2017 pre-school year is met.