- By Daniel Smith
- Published 04/27/2012
If costs are a concern for you when you need help with childcare, you may consider a facility operating under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme of Ireland. This scheme, from the Government, aims to provide a free preschool year for all eligible children. Understanding the basics of the rates is essential before you enrol your child in a childcare centre operating under this scheme.
The parents opting for childcare facilities under this scheme do not need to pay anything for the specific hours of childcare. For how many hours is this free childcare available? You may choose a day-care or full time childcare service or a session or part-time service for your child. As per your choice, your child may avail certain hours of childcare at no cost. The normal patterns are as follows:
- The full time services are available for 2 hours 15 minutes over a period of 50 weeks
- The part time services are available for 3 hours over a period of 38 weeks
How are the costs for these childcare centres covered? The State pays a capitation fee to each of these centres for each child enrolled. For the full time services, the capitation fee is €48.50 per week and for the part time services, the capitation fee is €64.50. This rate may go up to €75 for a childcare centre that appoints highly qualified staff. The rates would reduce for the part time care centres from September 2012.
The childcare centre may ask parents to submit a booking deposit before enrolling their child. However, this must not exceed the amount twice that of the capitation fee of two weeks. The childcare centre needs to repay this deposit before the end of the September of the year on which your child starts to go to the centre. Enquire about this booking deposit before you choose a childcare centre for the pre school year.
Though the childcare centre under the ECCE scheme does not charge for the free hours of service, you may have to pay if your child attends for more than these stipulated hours. These playschools may offer a number of optional activities for children. If your child participates in these activities, you may have to pay for these. However, the centre cannot make participation in these activities mandatory for children.
The childcare centre needs to ensure that other programme-based activities are available for children not participating in the optional activities available at extra charge. Certain items cannot be charged for by the childcare centre. This includes arts and crafts materials, worksheets, reports cards, dancing, school trips that involve no costs (like a visit to the park), and school plays and concerts.
However, certain activities may incur extra costs for the parents. This may include transport, swimming classes, meals, parties and trips that involve costs, and other such merchandise. It is necessary to check the additional items and activities available from the childcare centres and determine which would be good for your child. You also need to check the charges you have to pay for these if you choose them.
Daniel Smith is an educational consultant and childcare expert. He provides tips and suggestions for understanding the rates for which childcare facilities work. If you were looking for nursery or creche Dublin or for centres focusing on Montessori Dublin, he suggests you visit http://www.cocoonchildcare.ie/.