Learner Fund

The minimum requirement for working in the early years sector is a NFQ FETAC Level 5 or equivalent.


A list of Early Years DCYA Recognised Qualifications is here. 

This list will enable employees working in the Early Years sector in Ireland to check if qualifications they hold will be recognised. This list also sets out the qualifications that will be recognised for the purposes of the DCYA Childcare Programmes, including the qualification requirement for the room leader in the ECCE programme in order for a service to receive the ECCE Higher Capitation rate.  Where a qualification is not published on the list of DCYA Early Years Recognised Qualifications but the holder considers it to be an appropriate Major Award at Level 5 on the NFQ or equivalent, the holder can apply to have their qualification assessed for approval. If it is approved for recognition the details of the qualification will be added to the list of DCYA Early Years Recognised Qualifications

Information in relation to the Early Years (Pre-school) Regulations and DCYA Childcare Programmes Qualification Requirements and DCYA Qualifications Recognition Application Process can be download here.

Fetac Level 6

Following a review of Learner Fund 4, The DCYA have amended the criteria to take account of feedback it has received in respect to the on-going training needs of the early year’s sector and the continuing qualification recognition process.  

The opportunity to submit a Learner Fund 4 application is being provided to a targeted cohort of Learners as follows: 

  • Early Years staff who received DCYA letters (after LF4 closed on March 10th 2016) and which confirms that their qualifications do not meet the requirements for the DCYA qualifications list/ ECCE Contractual requirements, are eligible to apply for LF4.

  • Early Years services who are expanding ECCE provision (additional room(s)) and as a result need a L6 person/s as a room leader – this round of LF4 is open to more than 1 application per service.  

  • Early Years staff who hold 5 QQI relevant certified/completed components at Level 5 will now be able to apply for a Level 6 award. To be eligible, it is expected that these applicants will be already known to their respective CCCs and invited to submit an application.

All Learner Fund 4 applications must be made online through the Pobal Learner Fund portal. A separate guideline document ’Learner Fund 4 August 2016 – How to Apply’ gives details of how to register and complete the online application form and is available on the Learner Fund portal. Only fully completed online applications as well as the necessary accompanying documents can be considered for approval.

The Learner Fund 4 online application form will be open from 2.00pm August 4th to 6.00pm 28th October 2016.

  1. In advance of applying for the Learner Fund 4, the employer should consult with the staff member to obtain consent for the submission of an application on their behalf.

  2. The application form requests confirmation that the staff member is aware of, and consents to, the application.

  3. There is a Learner Fund panel of approved Training Providers who will deliver courses that meet the requirement for the Learner Fund 4. Only courses taken with a Training Provider on the approved panel can be considered for subsidy under the Learner Fund 4.

  4. City/County Childcare Committees will review Learner Fund 4 August 2016 applications and, once approved, issue notification emails. This notification email is a requirement in order to enroll on a subsidised course.

  5. Once approved for a subsidy the Learner Applicant can proceed to enroll with one of the approved Training Providers. An updated Learner Fund panel list of Training Providers can be accessed on the Pobal Learner Fund portal or through City/County Childcare Committees.

Courses should be completed by December 31st 2017

Pobal Portal

Information on Eligibility to Apply plus links to Frequently Asked Questions and to the online Application Form 

For the Training Provider List https://online.pobal.ie/LearnerFund/Lists/Training