Irish Montessori Education Board - Bord Oideachais Montessori Eireann

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


Questions from Providers

I am a private/community provider. How do I apply?

We will be contacting all pre-school services which are notified to the HSE (or registered with IMEB) providers by the end of May with full details and forms relating to the application procedure.

An I obliged to provide this new service?

No, you may choose to opt-in.

My service provides for other age ranges. Do I have to stop those other services if I apply?

No, but the capitation grant will apply to pre-school year service only.

Who applies for it - parents or providers?

Providers apply by completing the forms sent out to them in May Further details on how to apply will be provided once the application system is finalised.

What are the application criteria?

You must be a pre-school service which is notified to the HSE (or registered with IMEB.)

You must be prepared to meet the conditions of the scheme, including providing 3hrs free pre-school, five days a week, 38 weeks a year - or 2hrs 15min, five days a week, 50 weeks a year.

Who gets paid - parents or provider?

The provider will be given the capitation grant at the start of each term, beginning in January 2010.

How much is the grant?

For each eligible child, the grant will be calculated on the basis of 64.50 a week per child for a free 3hr service 5 days a week, 38 weeks of the year.

Alternatively, the grant will be calculated on the basis of 48.50 a week for providing a free 2hr 15min service 5 days a week, 50 weeks of the year.

If I get 64.50 for each eligible child, 38 weeks of the year, can I charge extra . . . ?

Not to provide 3 hours pre-school for eligible children, no.  If, however, the child is attending a longer hours service you may charge the normal fee minus the capitation.

 . . . But I charge more than that at the moment?

It is a matter for each service to decide whether it wishes to apply to enter the scheme. Applicants abide by the conditions of the scheme.  Entrants to the scheme will have more certainty about their income, however, and will be paid in advance of each term.

I do full day care the year round. Can I apply?

Yes. You must provide 2hrs 15min of pre-school free of charge for eligible children using your service. If parents want a service for longer than this each day, you may charge the difference. But if parents just want their free 2hrs 15min pre-school per day, you must provide that.  You may also choose to provide a 3 hour service on the 38 week model.

If I get 48.50 a week for each eligible child, 50 weeks of the year, do I have to drop my prices by 48.50?

Yes, as the grant will be paid for providing free 2hrs 15min pre-school, 50 weeks of the year for eligible children.  The balance of the full or part time childcare fee payable should be charged to parents.

Is there a limit to the number of services which will be accepted into the scheme?

No. This scheme is open to all eligible applicants who can provide the service and meet the conditions of the scheme (e.g. are limited companies / sole traders, have staff with appropriate qualifications in childcare).

What qualifications in childcare must staff have?

The pre-school leader must have a qualification in childcare which is Fetac Level 5 or 6 (or equivalent)

What are the age limits?

The answer to this, and other questions, is in the section below.

Questions from parents

I am a parent. How do I apply?

Details of pre-school services which have entered the scheme will be available from your local Childcare Committee by October 2009.  You can then contact a local service to enrol your child. If you are using a service already you can ask your provider if they plan to enter the scheme.

Is it only for community providers?

No, all pre-school services which are notified to the HSE (or registered with the IMEB) can apply to participate.  

I am a parent. Can I get the money sent to me instead?

No. The capitation fee will be paid to the provider.

What ages are eligible?

Any child that, on 1 January 2010, is aged between 3 yrs  7mths and 4 yrs  10 mths is an eligible child.  This may be appealed where a child has special needs that make this limit inappropriate to them.

What if my childcare provider is not taking part in the scheme?

The scheme is not obligatory so it is up to childcare providers to apply if they so wish.  Details of participating services in your area will be available by October 2009.

My child will be 3yrs 7mths in in December 2009. Is she eligible?

Yes. On 1 January 2009, she will be between 3yrs 7mths and 4 yrs 10mths, so she will be eligible.

My child will be 5 years old on 1 January 2010. He will not start school until September. Is he eligible?

The scheme does not cover a child over 4 years 10mths on 1 January 2010.

How much will providers get?

Playschools in the scheme - providing three hours a day, 5 days a week for 38 weeks of the year - will get a grant basis on 64.50 per child a week for providing a free playschool service.

Full-time or part-time services operating on a 50 week a year basis will be able to provide 2hrs 15min a day free pre-school for eligible children, and they will receive a grant based on 48.50 per child per week for this.  Parents will benefit by a reduction in their childcare costs of this amount.

Do I have a right to free pre-school for my child? My local centre says it is booked out. Do they have to take my child?

No, the scheme is subject to availability and a free pre-school place cannot be guaranteed in every case.  However, it is expected that almost all parents will be accommodated.  If you have difficulty finding a place for your child, you should contact your local City/County Childcare Committee for advice. 

Will the scheme be means-tested?

No, it will not be means-tested, and will be available to all parents based on local availability.


Kingston House, 64 Patrick Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.  Tel/Fax: 01 - 280 5705  email: