Thursday, January 01, 1970

National Childcare Scheme

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) is a new scheme that provides financial support to help parents to meet the costs of childcare.

The NCS will replace all previous targeted childcare support programmes with a single streamlined and user-friendly Scheme to help parents meet the cost of quality childcare.

 The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme provides early childhood care and education for pre-school children. It will not be affected by the NCS and will continue to operate alongside the NCS.

The National Childcare Scheme provides 2 types of childcare subsidy for children over 6 months of age:

a universal subsidy for children under 3 (from 24 weeks) which is not means tested
an income assessed subsidy for children up to 15 which is means-tested.

Universal Subsidy

It is only for children aged between 6 months (24 weeks) and 3 years (36 months)
It is available to parents with any income level and it is not means tested
Parents of children over 3 years (36 months) who have not yet qualified for the free pre-school programme (ECCE) can apply
Your subsidy will be 50 cent an hour. This is €20 a week (or €1,040 a year) if you qualify for the maximum of 40 hours of subsidised childcare a week.
Children must be attending a childcare provider who is registered with Tusla.


What you will need to apply online:

A verified MyGovID account.
[Text Box: Your verified MyGovID is your single, secure account to unlock Irish Government services online. For more information on getting and using your verified MyGovID to access the National Childcare Scheme visit.] The date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) for each of the children you are applying for.

Income Assessed Subsidy

It is for children aged between 6 months (24 weeks) and 15 years
It is means tested and available to families with an annual reckonable income* of up to €60,000.
Your hourly subsidy rates are based on your individual circumstances (depending on your reckonable family income and the age and educational stage of your child and the number of children in your family).
You can use your subsidised hours for before-school and after-school childcare costs
Children must be attending a childcare provider who is registered with Tusla
If you (and your partner, if you have one) are working, studying or training, the maximum number of subsidised hours available per week are 40.
If you (or your partner, if you have one) are not working, studying or training, the maximum number of subsidised hours available per week are 15.
In both cases the available hours include hours spent in school or preschool. The remaining hours can then be used for 'wrap-around care'. You can read more about wrap-around care in the Frequently Asked Questions. (


*Reckonable income is calculated by taking your net family income and deducting any allowable items under the Scheme, such as the Multiple Child Discount.  In other words, it is the family income, including social protection payments, after tax, PRSI, USC, and any allowable items under the Scheme have been deducted.


What you will need to apply online:

A verified MyGovID account
Your children’s information such as date of birth and PPSN
Your employment and income related details
Your partner’s PPSN**
Your partner’s employment and income related details**

**if you are a member of a couple


Subsidies are paid directly to your childcare provider; however, you must apply for the subsidy yourself. Your provider then subtracts your subsidy from your childcare bill.

Useful resources to guide you are available on . A Subsidy Calculator is also available on the link above. This is a very useful tool, which can help you understand which subsidy may benefit you most.


How to Apply:

You can apply online at from 20 November 2019.

To apply online, you need:

A verified MyGovID account
Your children’s information, including their date of birth and PPS numbers
Your employment and income-related details
Your partner’s PPS number (your partner does not need a verified MyGovID account)
Your partner’s employment and income-related details
You can get more information about getting a verified MyGovID from the MyGovID website.

The NCS website has a step-by-step guide to the online application process. You can read more information online on

A paper-based application will also be available from January 2020. These applications will take longer to process and may affect the start date of the subsidy payment.

Subsidies are awarded on a yearly basis. Parents and childcare providers will be notified when a subsidy is due for renewal. You will get this notification at least 20 working days before your subsidy payment is due to expire.

A 6-month renewal date will be set in some situations – set out in the NCS policy guidelines.


What happens when my application has been approved?

You get a unique code called a CHICK (Childcare Identifier Code Key) when your application is approved
Your provider then uses the CHICK and your child’s name and date of birth to register your child on the National Childcare Scheme
You get an email notification asking you to confirm that the hours of childcare are correct
Your subsidy is paid directly to your childcare provider on your behalf
Your childcare provider subtracts the subsidy from your childcare bill

If you choose to use 2 different childcare providers for a single child (for example on different days of the week) you can use a single CHICK for both providers.

If you are separated from the parent of your child and you are both awarded a subsidy for the child, you each get a different CHICK.


Further information

You can contact your local City or County Childcare Committee for information on the scheme and services in your area. Visit for more information on the National Childcare Scheme or contact the National Childcare Scheme Parent Support Centre. Call (01) 906 8530 (9am - 5pm Monday to Friday) or email

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