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The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age. Children can start ECCE when they are 2 years and 8 months of age and continue until they transfer to primary school (provided that they are not older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the pre-school year).
The State pays participating playschools and daycare services a set amount per child to offer the ECCE service. In return, participating creches and childcare facilities provide a pre-school service free of charge to all children within the qualifying age range. The service is for a set number of hours over a set period of weeks.