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Introduction of a free Pre-School Year
in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

2010 free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education scheme under the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA)

Friday, 31 July 2009

Pre-schools offer 93,000 ECCE places Latest figures from the OMCYA show that approximately 4,000 pre-school services have applied to enter the scheme with a capacity to provide some 93,000 pre-school year places, well in excess of the places required.  As a result, it has been decided to allow for greater parental choice and flexibility in the case of children who just miss out on the age eligibility of the scheme by a matter of weeks.  The effect will be that children born on or between 2 February 2005 and 30 June 2006 will be eligible to enter the scheme in January 2010.  

Higher rate of capitation for higher quality services
In addition, the OMCYA is introducing a new higher rate of capitation of €75 per week for sessional playschool services with highly qualified staff.  This new rate is being added to the scheme to support and incentivise the progression of services to higher levels of staff qualifications and to recognise the many existing services which already operate with highly qualified staff.  Under the standard capitation fee for sessional playschool services of €64.50 per week, all Pre-school leaders are required to hold a childcare qualification equivalent to the core modules of FETAC level 5.  Under the higher capitation fee, all Pre-school leaders in sessional services will be required to hold a childcare or early years education related qualification  at level 7 or 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications. and have 3 years experience of working in the sector.  Pre-school Assistants in these services must hold a qualification equivalent to FETAC level 5.  Sessional services within day-care services can also avail of the higher capitation rate.

The OMCYA stated that should a service which has not applied under the scheme to date now wish to do so as a result of this announcement, late applications will be accepted over the coming weeks.

Rates exemption The Minister Andrews also announced that his Office had received confirmation from the Valuation Office that sessional services participating in the scheme, which defray their costs wholly or mainly from State funding, will be exempt from commercial rates under the Valuation Act.  While this will not impact on full-day crèches, whose main income will remain parental fees, it will reduce the running costs of many participating pre-school services. The OMCYA said that, as the introduction of the ECCE has changed the position for many services, it proposes to seek further clarification over the coming months with a view to securing greater uniformity of treatment amongst services.  


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