I am a Parent (Information on Programmes)

Finding an Early Learning and Care or School Age Childcare Provider

Choosing the right early learning and care or school age childcare provider for your child can be a daunting task for parents. Many factors come into play. The quality of care and education in the service is paramount, whilst other factors such as cost, location and the ethos of the service are often also key considerations when choosing childcare. Your local City or County Childcare Committee (CCC) will be able to assist whether you are searching for the first time, or are thinking of switching your child to a different provider.

Types of Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare

There are many types of early learning and child and school age childcare. Your local CCC will be able to discuss the most suitable option with you. The main types of childcare are:

Full Day Care: provides childcare for more than 5 hours per day. Services may offer a morning and/or an afternoon session. These include crèches and nurseries.

Part-Time Day Care: provides childcare for children over 3.5 hours and less than 5 hours per day. 

Sessional Care: provides childcare for one or two sessions a day with a maximum of 3.5 hours per session. These include playgroups, Naíonraí and services offering Montessori programmes, etc.

Childminder: is a person who cares for children, usually in the childminder’s own home. 

Out of School/School age childcare: A school age childcare service is one that provides care for school going children out of school hours. These can include breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, school holiday programmes, etc.

Drop-In Centres: Services offering day care which is used on an intermittent basis for a period of not more than two hours while a parent/guardian is availing of a service or attending an event. Such services are mainly located in shopping centres, leisure centres or other establishments as part of customer/client service. 

National Childcare Scheme and First 5

What might I expect to pay per week?

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Information on Programmes

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth funds support programmes to help parents access quality early learning and care and school age childcare at a more affordable cost. Your local CCC will be able to assist you in explaining your eligibility for these programmes and advice on which services offer these programmes in your area. Below is a brief description of the main programmes available: 

National Childcare Scheme

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) is the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare. It provides subsidies to help parents meet the cost of quality early learning and care and school age childcare. Under NCS, subsidies are available for families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending any participating Tusla registered childcare service, including any Tusla registered childminder and school age childcare services. The Scheme also provides an innovative and user-friendly online application process to access those subsidies.

More information is available on the National Childcare Scheme website:  www.ncs.gov.ie

ECCE

The Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) programme is a universal two-year pre-school programme available to all children within the eligible age range. It provides children with their first formal experience of early learning prior to commencing primary school. The programme is provided for three hours per day, five days per week over 38 weeks per year and the programme year runs from September to June each year.

There is one point of entry at the beginning of the programme year. The programme will be available to all children who have turned 2 years and 8 months of age before September 1st as long they won’t turn 5 years and 6 months of age on or before June 30th of the programme year.

Services taking part in the ECCE programme must provide an appropriate pre-school educational programme which adheres to the principles of Síolta, the national framework for early years care and education.

CCSP Saver Programme 

The Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP) Saver Programme is a support programme for community and private based early learning and care and school age childcare services to provide quality childcare at a reduced rate to parents. It enables community and private childcare services to reduce fees for parents in receipt of certain social welfare payments, Family Income Supplement and holders of medical cards and GP visit cards.

Participation in the CCSP Saver Programme is for parents who chose not to move to the National Childcare Scheme when it launched in November 2019, and instead retained their existing level of subsidy.

TEC (Training and Employment Childcare)

Training and Employment Childcare supports those returning to education or employment by providing subsidised childcare places.  The allocation of childcare places under the Programme is managed by the Department via the City and County Childcare Committees and local early learning and care and school age childcare providers. The TEC programme closed to new applicants in February 2020.

Did you know?

Under Budget 2020,  the “saver” arrangement was extended to ensure that no one loses out in the initial transition to the National Childcare Scheme. In this Budget, additional funding was secured to extend the savers beyond August 2020. This means that if you were registered on the CCSP or TEC schemes before they closed, and you retain your eligibility, you will be able to remain on scheme indefinitely, for example, until you no longer require early learning and care or school age childcare.

More detail on each of these programmes can be found at www.gov.ie/early-childhood-and-education

Parent Training

For information on parenting courses available in your area, please contact your local CCC office.

Ask a question

If you have a query or concern regarding your child’s experience of early learning and care or school age childcare your local CCC will be on hand to point you in the right direction. 

Helping your child reach their full potential

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a programme of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the ECCE Programme in mainstream pre-school settings and can participate fully in the pre-school curriculum alongside their peers. AIM is a child centred model of supports, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the pre-school setting. The model is designed to be responsive to the needs of each individual child in the context of their pre-school setting.  It will offer tailored, practical supports based on need and will not require a formal diagnosis of disability. You can find out more by visiting www.aim.gov.ie or by calling your local CCC.