Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has said that the Government is examining the possibility of using money from the child benefit payment to extend the free pre-school year.
Minister Quinn said €2bn is spent on child benefit payments every year - and he, along with the the Children's Minister and the Minister for Social Protection, is examining how best to spend that money.
The overall spend would remain the same, but Minister Quinn says extending early education schemes may benefit children more in the long run.
"It's a benefit entitlement," he said.
"What's the best benefit you could give a child?
"It seems to me that the best benefit you could give any child - particularly a child coming from a disadvantaged background - is to level the playing pitch in the world of education, and minimise those inequalities.
"You enrich the entire country… and it might be a better way of spending child benefit."