• Drumquin, Tiermaclane, Ennis Co. Clare
  • +353656838358
  • info@wonderyearscreche.ie

Wonder Years Creche is registered for the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) Government Pre-School Scheme and also the National Childcare Scheme (NCS).

The ECCE Scheme

What is the ECCE Scheme?

The ECCE is a government funded scheme which gives children access to free Pre-school where they are immersed in appropriate programme-based activities from the age of three years until they start primary school.

Participation in the ECCE scheme provides children with their first experience of formal learning and supports and enhances their early years development.

When will my child be eligible for the scheme?

The ECCE scheme is open to children from the age of three years until they attend primary school (Provided that they are not older than 5 ½ years at the end of the preschool year).

Birth date betweenEligible Enrolment date(s)ECCE end date
1st January 2014 – 31st March 20141st April 2017, 1st September 2017 +
1st September 2018 *
June 2019
1st April 2014 – 31st August 20141st September 2017 + 1st September 2018 *June 2019
1st September 2014 – 31st December 20141st January 2018 + 1st September 2018 *                  June 2019
1st January 2015 – 31st December 20151st September 2018 + 1st September 2019June 2020
1st January 2016 – 31st December 20161st September 2019 + 1st September 2020June 2021
1st January 2017 – 31st December 20171st September 2020 + 1st September 2021June 2022
1st January 2018 – 31st December 20181st September 2021 + 1st September 2022June 2023
1st January 2019 – 31st December 20191st September 2022 + 1st September 2023June 2024
1st January 2019 – 31st December 20191st September 2022 + 1st September 2023June 2024

* Children born between 1st January and 31st December 2014 will continue to be eligible for free pre-school under the terms of the ECCE expansion as announced in Budget 2016. ECCE eligibility criteria as announced under Budget 2018 came into effect with effect from 1st September 2018.

Parents can enrol their children at three entry points during the year: September 2016, January 2017 and April 2017. The number of weeks a child is entitled to is determined by the child’s date of birth. Click here for the eligibility poster for the ECCE Programme or alternatively input your child’s date of birth into the ECCE Calculator. This ECCE Calculator determines eligibility entry points for the ECCE programme.


How is the ECCE scheme provided? 

The scheme is provided over 38 weeks (September to June) and offers 3 hours free preschool per day for 5 days per week. 
In certain cases, a service may offer 3 hours 45 mins free preschool over 4 days per week and run for 41 weeks

How do I apply for a place?

  • Choose the childcare facility that you wish your child to attend.
  • Check that the service offers the ECCE scheme and that they have places available for the entry point you wish to start your child on (September, January or April).
  • Enrol your child with the service.
  • You will be given an ECCE Parent Declaration Form which you will complete, sign and return to the childcare service.
  • You will also be given a copy of the services Fees List to sign and a copy of the Preschool calendar for your information.
  • The service provider will submit your child’s details to the Dept of Children & Youth Affairs and officially enrol him/her on the ECCE scheme.

For More Information contact the Department of Children and Youth Affairs

NCS Scheme

What is the NCS Scheme?

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) is a new scheme that provides financial support to help parents to meet the costs of childcare. The National Childcare Scheme provides 2 types of childcare subsidy for children over 6 months of age – a universal subsidy for children under 3 which is not means tested and an income assessed subsidy for children up to 15 which is means-tested.

Subsidies are paid directly to your childcare provider, however YOU must apply for the subsidy yourself. Your provider then subtracts your subsidy from your childcare bill.

You must meet certain conditions to be eligible for the NCS:

  • Relationship to the child: You or your current partner must be a parent of the child or acting in loco parentis (this means acting as a parent to the child).
  • Residency status: You must be ordinarily resident in Ireland and have a legal right to live here (that is, you are either a national of an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland, or have immigration status or leave to remain).
  • PPS numbers: You must provide your own PPS number and the PPS number of the child or children you are applying for.
  • Age of the child: To qualify for the universal subsidy, your child must be between 6 months (24 weeks) and 3 years (36 months). To qualify for the income assessed subsidy, your child must be between 6 months (24 weeks) to 15 years.

You can read more about the eligibility criteria for subsidies in the NCS policy guidelines (pdf).

You can use the subsidy calculator on the NCS website to help you work out what your entitlement will be.

If you are currently on a targeted childcare programme, you can use the subsidy calculator to see which scheme will benefit you most: the NCS or your current programme. You can stay on your current programme until August 2021.

You can apply online at ncs.gov.ie from 20 November 2019.

To apply online, you need:

  • A verified MyGovID account
  • Your children’s information, including their date of birth and PPS numbers
  • Your employment and income-related details
  • Your partner’s PPS number (your partner does not need a verified MyGovID account)
  • Your partner’s employment and income-related details

You can get more information about getting a verified MyGovID from the MyGovID website.

The NCS website has a step-by-step guide to the online application process.

A paper-based application became available on 13 March 2020. You can apply by post by contacting the Parent Support Centre. The National Childcare Scheme – Parent Support Centre is currently open Monday to Saturday from 8:00am –  6:00pm. Parents can contact the centre by calling (01) 906 8530.

Subsidies are awarded on a yearly basis. Parents and childcare providers will be notified when a subsidy is due for renewal. You will get this notification at least 20 working days before your subsidy payment is due to expire- see the NCS policy guidelines (pdf).

What happens when my application has been approved?

  1. You get a unique code called a CHICK (Childcare Identifier Code Key) when your application is approved
  2. Your provider then uses the CHICK and your child’s name and date of birth to register your child on the National Childcare Scheme
  3. You get an email notification asking you to confirm that the hours of childcare are correct
  4. Your subsidy is paid directly to your childcare provider on your behalf
  5. Your childcare provider subtracts the subsidy from your childcare bill

The National Childcare Scheme rates are:

Universal subsidyRate per hour
Available to all families with childcare costs for children aged between 6 months (24 weeks) to 3 years (36 months)50 cent
Income assessed subsidy
Reckonable incomeRate per hour (0-1 years)Rate per hour (1-3 years)Rate per hour (over 3, not yet in school)Rate per hour (school age and up to 15)
€26,000 or under€5.10€4.35€3.95€3.75
€57,500 to €60,000€0.84€0.78€0.33€0.33

You are entitled to the maximum subsidy rates if your reckonable income is €26,000 or less. Your subsidy rate decreases as your income increases up to the threshold of €60,000.

If your reckonable income is over €60,000, you are entitled to the universal subsidy rate of 50c per hour if your child is between 6 months and 3 years old.

Further information

You can contact your local City or County Childcare Committee for information on the scheme and services in your area.

Visit ncs.gov.ie for more information on the National Childcare Scheme or contact the National Childcare Scheme Parent Support Centre. Call (01) 906 8530 (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday) or email NCS@dcya@gov.ie

You can get detailed information on the NCS in the policy guidelines (pdf)