What is the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education?

About our programs

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme is an universal childcare programme designed to give children access to 2 years free pre-school education before they start primary school. The programme is delivered to children of pre-school age (2 years 8 months to 5 years 6 months) prior to commencing primary school. All children are entitled to 2 full academic years (76 weeks) on the ECCE scheme. The ECCE scheme operates for 38 weeks of the year, 5 days a week, 3 hours a day. Children must be 2 years 8 months by 31 August to start on the ECCE scheme.

Children with special needs

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a programme of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education 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.

Levels 1 – 3 of the model involve a suite of universal supports which are designed to promote and support an inclusive culture within pre-school settings by means of a variety of educational and capacity-building initiatives for pre-school providers and practitioners. International evidence suggests that these supports, when appropriately developed, are sufficient to support many children with disabilities.

However, where a pre-school provider, in partnership with a parent, considers that some  further additional support may be necessary to meet the needs of a particular child, they can apply for one or more targeted supports under levels 4 – 7 of the model. Additional targeted supports could take the form of expert early childhood care and education advice and mentoring (level 4), specialised equipment, appliances and minor alterations (level 5), therapeutic supports (level 6) and additional capitation to fund extra assistance in the ECCE pre-school room (level 7). More information on these targeted supports is provided below.

Finally, AIM applies to all mainstream pre-school settings which are funded through the ECCE Programme. In addition to mainstream settings, pre-school services are also offered in special pre-schools and early intervention classes which cater exclusively for children with disabilities.  While the underlying vision of AIM is to cater for as many children as possible in mainstream settings, it is recognised that a small number of children will continue to need specialised services.

Where can I enrol my child for the free pre-school year?

1) Please fill in our online registration form. Have your child’s birth certificate in digital form. Take a good quality photo or save it to pdf file.

2) Pay a deposit of 200 euro using PayPal .

You can contact us by calling 01-5350008, 085763673 or emailing on micasa@micasamontessori.ie

How is the Pre-School Year funded?


Pre-School services participating in the programme are paid a capitation fee for each qualifying child enrolled. Pre-school services are required to notify the Department of the details of each child enrolled in the programme, so you will be asked by the pre-school service in which your child is enrolled to complete a form which includes your child’s date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). You will also be asked to provide documentary evidence of these details (a copy of the child’s birth certificate or passport, and a copy of official proof of the child’s PPSN which can taken the form of a copy of an official document or card showing the child’s name and PPSN, e.g. a Drug Payment Scheme card, a Medical Card, or a letter from the Department of Social Protection). In return, the service is required to provide an appropriate programme of activities in early childhood care and education free to parents.

How will the Pre-School Year be provided?

Children will normally receive pre-school year sessions for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, over 38 weeks (September to June).
Will parents have to pay additional charges in respect of the Pre-School Year?

Services participating in the programme must provide the pre-school year free to parents. However, a service may charge parents for additional services as long as (a) the services are provided on an optional basis and (b) appropriate programme-based activities are provided to any children not participating in an optional activity.

Optional additional services can take the form of various activities or services such as outings, specific teaching resources such as dance or music, and food, but should not include activities which would generally be regarded as a normal part of a pre-school service, e.g. general arts and crafts activities.

Services may also charge for any additional hours outside of the free pre-school provision.

Additional services or additional hours must be offered to parents on a purely optional basis and take-up of these options must not a condition (real or implied) of enrolment in the pre-school service.

City and County Childcare Committees

If you would like further information regarding the ECCE programme you should contact your local City or County Childcare Committee. Click below for contact details.

Admission Procedures

  • Each child must be at least 2 years 8 months of age when starting at the service.
  • All children must be toilet-trained.
  • Parents seeking to secure a place for their child must complete
    • Request registration form
    • health record forms
    • pay a deposit fee
  • Completed forms must be lodged with the school prior to the child attending the service,
  • Children will be admitted on “first come first served” basis providing the fact all forms have been completed and deposit has been paid.
  • A “waiting list” will be held for any additional children who are not successful in securing a place.