The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme is designed to allow each eligible child to avail of a free pre-school year in the year before commencing primary school. In general, the programme is provided for 3 hours per day, 5 days per week, over 38 weeks.
Childcare service providers participating in the ECCE programme are obliged to abide by the terms and conditions of the programme as laid out in the contract and in the Guide to the Administrative Procedures which is on my Department’s website.
The ECCE funding is paid to service providers in instalments at the start of each pre-school term. There are a number of reasons why a child might cease to avail of the ECCE programme in a particular service and, depending on the circumstances, the service provider may in certain cases retain a portion of the capitation fee that has been paid in respect of that child. However, in circumstances where the service provider has indicated that s/he is no longer in a position to provide the programme to a particular child, for whatever reason, any funding already paid for the provision of the service in respect of a period beyond the date of cessation must be returned to the Department. This is provided for under paragraph 5.3 of the ECCE contract.
In such circumstances, if the parent subsequently enrols the child in the ECCE programme in another pre-school service, the capitation fee due for that child will be paid to the new pre-school service with effect from the date the child commences in that service.