The reopening of pre-school services after the Christmas break will be delayed until January 11th, in line with schools.
This latest move comes in an attempt to reduce the spread of coronavirus, according to the Department of Children.
On Wednesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that primary and secondary schools would remain closed until January 11th. They had been scheduled to reopen on January 4th or 6th, depending on the school.
The decision to delay reopening was made at a hastily convened Cabinet meeting on Wednesday following an increase in Covid-19 infections.
However, the delayed reopening did not apply to early-years facilities such as creches and childcare premises – a move criticised by those in the sector who said their exclusion from the new public health rules had “no rationale”.
The Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman, said on Friday that the resumption of the Early Childhood Care and Education programme (ECCE) would be postponed to allow more time for families to reduce their contacts.
However, Mr O'Gorman asked creches operating as private businesses to reopen as planned from January 4th to provide childcare, particularly to priority groups.
According to the Department of Children, more than 100,000 children are currently enrolled on ECCE schemes which are delivered at 4,000 services nationwide.
On Friday, Mr O’Gorman met with the Early Learning and Childcare Covid-19 Advisory Group to discuss the matter.
Representatives shared their concerns about the full resumption of early learning and childcare from early January.
The Minister then agreed with his Cabinet colleagues that the pre-school programme can resume at the later date.
The Department of Children will provide funding to providers for the pre-school programme for the week of January 4th to 8th.