National Childcare Scheme

Universal Childcare & ECCE

Universal Subsidy

Universal Subsidies are available to all families with children under 3 years old. They are also available to families with children over 3 years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool programme (ECCE). This subsidy is not means tested and provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for a maximum of 45 hours per week.

A parent will need to a Universal Application online on and provide a CHICK outlining the universal subsidy award. The parent will need the following to apply:

Early Childhood Care and Education

(ECCE) – Free Pre-school Programme (2 years)

The Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) programme is a universal two-year pre-school programme available to all children within the eligible age range.

It provides children with their first formal experience of early learning prior to commencing primary school. The programme is provided for three hours per day, five days per week over 38 weeks per year and the programme year runs from September to June each year.

ECCE must be provided free of charge to parents/guardians.

There is one point of entry at the beginning of the programme year. The programme will be available to all children who have turned 2 years and 8 months of age before September 1st as long they won’t turn 5 years and 6 months of age on or before June 30th of the programme year.

For more information on the ECCE programme, please see the  ECCE Useful Resources