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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone)

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Snippet Contents:

In the first instance I would like to inform the Deputy that officials from my Department have written to the parent on this matter.
The ECCE programme began in 2010 as a one-year (38 week) free pre-school programme for all children aged 3 years and 2 months on or before 31st August of the programme year as long as they would not turn 5 years and 6 months during that programme year.
In 2016, the programme was expanded by reducing the age of eligibility to 3 years, thus increasing the number of weeks of pre-school to an average of 61 weeks for eligible children.
I announced further changes to ECCE eligibility in Budget 2018 where the lower age will be further reduced to 2 years and 8 months. The upper age limit has remained the same through all these changes and has been set at 5 years and 6 months in conjunction with the Early Years Policy Unit in the Department of Education and Skills to limit the age range of children commencing primary school education.
It must be noted that exceptions to the upper age limit are made only in cases where a child has special needs and an application for such an exemption must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from the child’s specialist.