The latest Budget in Ireland announced that the short lived “Early Childcare Supplement” is to be halved from May 2009 and abolished from 31 December 2009.
It is going to be replaced in January 2010 with a pre-school Early Childhood and Education Scheme (ECCE) for all children between the ages of 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months.
Children enrolled in playschools will receive free pre-school provision of 3 hours per day, 5 days each week over a 38 week year. The pre-school providers will get a weekly capitation of €64.50 per child and parents will not be charged.
Children enrolled in full- or part-time childcare services will receive free pre-school provision of 2 hours and 15 minutes per day, five days a week over a 50 week period. This equates to a weekly capitation grant to the service of €48.50, with parents paying for their childcare net of this amount.
All community and private pre-school services, which meet the requirements of the scheme, will be invited to apply for entry to the scheme and all notified pre-school services will be contacted by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA) by the end of May, 2009. To introduce the scheme as quickly as possible and maximise the number of children and their parents who will benefit from the outset, the Minister said he did not propose to wait until the school year beginning September 2010 but would introduce the scheme from January 2010. From September 2010, the pre-school year will run from September of each year in line with the school year.
All children aged between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months at September 1st each year, will be eligible and parents who wish to avail of the scheme can enrol their children with the available participating service of their choice. Children entering the scheme in January 2010 will be eligible, if they are aged between 3 years and 7 months and 4 years and 10 months at 1 January 2010 (children born between March 1st, 2005 and June 1st, 2006). Parents should have regard to the enrolment policies of their local primary schools in making decisions regarding the age that their children should avail of the pre-school year.