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The Free Preschool Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is a programme administered by the Childcare Directorate of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) with the support of the local City & County Childcare Committee (CCC). ECCE is a universal programme, meaning that it is available to all children in the State in the qualifying age range.  All children aged between 3 years 2 months and 4 years 7 months on 1st September each year can avail of a free preschool year – to be normally* taken up through daily sessions of 3 hrs, 5 days per week for 38 weeks per year.
 
More than 4,000 Early Education & Childcare service providers nationally are contracted to offer the ECCE programme on behalf of DCYA.   Approximately 70,000 children benefit from the ECCE programme annually which is delivered through both private and community (not-for-profit) childcare providers.   
Since August 2016 Pobal has taken over responsibility for processing payments to the service providers.
 
Details of services offering ECCE locally can be found on Pobal Maps.
 
Pobal's Role
 
Pobal undertakes annual compliance visits to childcare providers participating in ECCE to ensure, on behalf of DCYA,  that eligible children receive their entitlements and that the provider is in compliance with the terms of the programme.
 
A full overview of the ECCE programme can be found on the DCYA website by clicking here.
 

*There are some variations to this attendance pattern. Your local County Childcare Committee (CCC) can provide further information and advice on ECCE, the process for securing a place, and local availability.