Offaly County Childcare Committee -   057 9135878

Parents of Children with Disabilities to be consulted on proposed changes to ‘overage exemption’ in free pre-school programme Planned changes to exemption paused to allow for full consultation

dcyalogoStatement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone

Parents of children with disabilities are to be consulted on plans to change current rules of the free pre-school programme, according to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

Minister Zappone says while the proposals were intended to ensure optimal outcomes for children with a disability could be achieved, she has also been contacted by many parents concerned about the impact of the changes.

The Minister says these concerns deserve careful consideration – and while the consultation takes place the proposals for children with disabilities which were due to start in September 2018 will be paused.

Minister Zappone added:

“Everyone is entitled to be heard as we continue our path to truly accessible affordable quality childcare – that is the very core of my approach.

It is an approach which has delivered extra supports for 64,000 children, the establishment of the innovative Access and Inclusion Model for children with disabilities and the delivery of two full years of free pre-school education for all 3-year olds from next September.

Each of these steps have been welcomed. Our childcare policies are focussed on bringing best international practice to Ireland and that was the motivation behind planned changes to the free pre-school or ECCE programme.

The changes were based on expert advice from the disability, education and other sectors that the ‘overage exemption’ in the free pre-school programme was no longer needed – and did not serve the best interests of these children. They pointed to the fact that all children benefit from starting school with their peers, including those children with a disability, and progressing to secondary school with their peers. They reflected Ireland's law that all children should be in school by the age of six.

However I have become increasingly aware that parents, who must be central to decisions concerning their children, are concerned about the changes planned from September 2018.

In order to ensure those concerns are responded to, I am now pausing the changes and will shortly announce a consultation whereby all voices, including those of parents of children with disabilities, can be heard.

I do not want to predict the outcome of that consultation – but I will say that its results will be central to guiding our path forward.

Our other childcare changes continue to benefit more and more families and in the coming week I will take the next step by publishing a bill which will form the legislative backbone of our radical new approach to transform one of the world’s most expensive childcare systems into the best.”


Consultation on the Draft Quality and Regulatory Framework (QRF)

24 Tusla Prevention Partnership Consultation on the Draft Quality and Regulatory Framework (QRF)

The role of the Early Years Inspectorate is to promote and monitor the quality, safety and appropriate care of children by robust inspection of the sector. In order to support service providers we have been engaged in a process to develop a Quality and Regulatory Framework that sets out the requirements for compliance under the 2016 Early Years Regulations.

The Early Year’s Inspectorate is now inviting all interested parties to give their feedback on this draft of the QRF. The purpose of this consultation is

a) to provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to give their views
b) to understand any potential concerns or challenges emerging
c) to identify potential training and other needs arising.

The questionnaire opens on Thursday 30th November and will close on Monday the 15th January 2018

Please click HERE to access the survey and further information from Tulsa. 


Capital 2018 Announcement: Early Years and School Age Childcare

dcyalogoThe Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is delighted to announce that there will be an Early Years and a School Age Childcare Capital Programme in 2018. The purpose of this announcement is to alert childcare services about the upcoming programme and give time to prepare to apply for the grants.


This year’s programme call will consist of 5 Strands.

- Strand 1: Expansion of an existing facility or creation of a new facility (Early Years)
- Strand 2: Essential building maintenance (Early Years, community services only)
- Strand 3: Creation of new natural outdoor play area (Early Years)
- Strand 4: The expansion of an existing facility or creation of a new facility (School Age Childcare)
- Strand 5: Essential building maintenance & quality improvement (School Age Childcare, community services only)

Services can apply for all strands for which they are eligible.

Please note that in 2018, Early Years and School Age Childcare Capital schemes will run concurrently.
It is hoped to open applications early in 2018 to allow for appraisal, decision-making and contracting to take place in advance of the summer.

DCYA reference numbers:  Please note-
To apply for funding under any of the strands, ALL applicants MUST HAVE a valid DCYA reference number.

The DCYA reference number under which an application is made MUST relate to the facility (address) at which the grant monies are to be spent and reported.

If you intend to move or open a facility at a different address you MUST obtain a new DCYA reference number before the opening of capital applications. You must have a DCYA reference number for each facility i.e. premises for which you wish to make an application for funding.

To obtain a DCYA reference number you must first contact your local City/County Childcare Committee who will provide you with the relevant support and advice.

All Early Years services are required to register with Tusla and your City/County Childcare Committee will help you in this regard. For new Early Years premises, DCYA can provide reference numbers in advance of a Tusla fit-for-purpose check for the purpose of applications to the Capital programme.

All School Age Childcare Services are required to register with DCYA only. Your local City/County Childcare Committee will advise and support you in this regard.

Further information on 2018 Capital programmes will be available in December and full application guidelines will follow early in 2018.


ECCE Payments - Christmas Period

ECCE Payments - Christmas Period

Please find details below of the ECCE Payments schedule and an update on registrations over Christmas Period:

Payment Dates: Payable To: Covering Maximum:
01 December 2017 19 January 2018 7 weeks
08 December 2017 19 January 2018  7 weeks
15 December  2017  19 January 2018 7 weeks
05 January 2018 19 January 2018 7 weeks
12 January 2018 19 January 2018 7 weeks
19 January 2018  23 February 2018 5 weeks


If Registrations Approved By
Close Of Business On:
You Will Receive Payment On:
27 November 2017 01 December 2017
04 December 2017 08 December 2017
11 December 2017  15 December 2017
02 January 2018 05 January 2018
08 January 2018 12 January 2018
15 January 2018 19 January 2018


· Payments made on a Friday will cover registrations, Higher Capitation, and AIM Level 1 (LINC) allocations approved by close of business on the previous Monday.

· Services will be paid in accordance with submitted service calendars therefore non-payable weeks should be taken into consideration.

· Following discussions with the DCYA it has been agreed to allow early registration for the January intake - Children being registered from 1st January can be entered on the system from Monday 18th December (14 days in advance of start date).

· If you have any queries please contact Pobal Online Support on 01-5117122, or your local City/County Childcare Committee.


Applications for Overage Exemptions No Longer Accepted for ECCE Programme from 2018/19 Programme Year

dcyalogoApplications for Overage Exemptions No Longer Accepted for ECCE Programme from 2018/19 Programme Year

The free pre-school year provided under the ECCE Programme was introduced by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in 2010. The objective of this Programme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to eligible children before they commence primary school. When first introduced, the ECCE Programme was delivered over 38 weeks in a given ECCE Programme Year and children were required to be between the ages of 3 years and 2 months and 4 years and 7 months on September 1st in the year they enrolled. Children with a disability could apply for an exemption from this upper age limit for the ECCE Programme (although it remained preferable that these children transitioned to primary school along with the same age peer group).

The application process for an exemption from the upper age limit for the ECCE Programme was introduced within a context where:

  •  The ECCE Programme was one year only; and
  •  Where the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)1 had yet to be introduced.

Given, the extension of the ECCE Programme in 2016/17; (and the further extension of the Programme to two full years from September 2018), and the introduction of AIM in June 2016, it is clear that an application process for an exemption from the upper age limit for the ECCE Programme is no longer required.

The guiding principle with regard to a child’s participation in pre-school and primary school is the best interests of the child. In keeping with this best interest principle:

  • children should participate in inclusive mainstream settings (both pre-school and primary) (unless there is a compelling argument for a specialist setting), and
  • children should transition from pre-school to primary school with their peers with appropriate supports provided by the relevant primary school, the NCSE and other bodies as required.

On this basis, no applications for overage exemption will be accepted for the ECCE Programme from the 2018/19 Programme Year. From 2018/19, any concerns with regard to a child’s transition to primary school should be referred to the AIM application process. The AIM Early Years Specialists will work with the parents (and guardians), providers, Special
Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) and others (as appropriate) to support the child’s transition to primary school.

Parents (and guardians) and providers are therefore advised to engage with the AIM process early and in the normal way where a concern in relation to a child’s transition to primary school is identified.