The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides 2 free years of early childhood care and education for children at pre-school age.
In general, children can start ECCE when they reach 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).
The ECCE Scheme means that the State pays a capitation fee to participating playschools and day care services. In return, all participating playschools provide a pre-school service free of charge to all children within the qualifying age range, for a set number of hours, over a set period of weeks. The school year is normally from September to June.