Latest Update – March 2019
In March 2019 the Affordable Childcare Scheme was relaunched with a new name- the National Childcare Scheme.
Originally announced as part of Budget 2017 – a new “Affordable Childcare Scheme” was proposed to help families with payments for creche and nursery fees and other types of childcare such as after school care.
The scheme was originally due to start in September 2017 – but the full rollout was delayed a few times .. it is now expected to be ready by October 2019.
In November 2018 the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, announced that the new Childcare Scheme will open for applications in mid-October 2019, with payments flowing from November 2019.
Note: only registered school age childcare services will be able to provide services under the National Childcare Scheme.
In March 2019 the Affordable Childcare Scheme was given a new name- the National Childcare Scheme.
After the National Childcare Scheme goes live , (expected October 2019) people will be able to choose to move over to the new Scheme or to remain on their old scheme for the remainder of the programme year.
The idea of this is to provide certainty for current scheme beneficiaries, offer ample time to apply for the new scheme and ensure that no family is worse off during the transition period. Once the National Childcare Scheme is in place in October 2019, registrations under the existing schemes will cease.
The free preschool programme (also known as ECCE, the Early Childhood Care and Education programme) will not be affected by the National Childcare Scheme, and will continue to operate.
Details of the National Childcare Scheme – every child between the ages of 6 months and 36 months in Tusla-registered childcare services will be eligible for some level of childcare support.
This scheme will replace the existing subsidy schemes – including the Community Childcare Subvention Programme(CCS / CCSP ) and the Childcare Education and Training Support Programme (TEC).
Means Tested Subsidies : National Childcare Scheme
The new Means-tested childcare subsidies, will be based on net parental income, and will be available for children between 6 months and 15 years. The rate you get will depend on your level of family income, your child’s age and educational stage, and the number of children in your family. The subsidy can be used towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours if you are working, studying or training, or in circumstances where you are unavailable for childcare, and a maximum of 15 hours if you are not working, studying or training.
Any family with a combined net parental income of less than €60,000 a year will qualify for some help.
For those above the net income threshold of €60,000, but with a child under 3 in regulated childcare, the scheme will still provide the universal payment of up to €1,040 per year.
Families with higher income may also qualify if they have more than 1 child under 15.
There is an example given of a family with net annual income of €60,000, with three children ..
- aged 2 years (40 hours childcare per week)
- and 5 years (17 hours out-of-school care per week)
- and 7 (17 hours out-of-school care per week).
This family would qualify for €92 a week childcare subsidy. (€4784 a year)
The maximum subsidy will be payable to all those with net incomes below €2600 per annum. (Net Income of €500 per week).
Childcare subsidy Payments will be made directly to childcare providers , not parents.
The calculation of the childcare subsidy is based on the net income of the household, the number of children and the ages of the children.
As net family income rises above €26,600 – the subsidy will decrease. A family with one child under 15 and net annual income over €60,000 a year will not qualify for the means tested subsidy. See below for details of Net income calculations.
Some Examples of How the National Childcare Scheme Will Work
a) Lone parent, with net annual income of €26,000 , with one child aged 2 years in need of 40 hours of childcare per week. Will get €175 per week subsidy . (€9,100 a year)
b). Family with gross income of €64,000 and a net annual income of €43,200 , with two children : One aged aged 5 who needs 17 hours of after school care a week and a 2 year old needing 40 hours of childcare per week . They will get €128 per week subsidy . (€6656 a year)
c) Family with net annual income of €51,400 (Gross of €90,000) with three children aged 2,2 and 1. (40 hours childcare each per week) . They will get €176 per week subsidy. (€9152 a year)
Applications can be made from October at https://ncs.gov.ie/
A Universal Child Care payment will apply to childcare fees for children aged under three years old. The proposed maximum rate for this is €900 a year for full time childcare. (Based on €0.50 an hour , 40 hours a week , 45 weeks of the year)
All families will be able to get a this minimum of 50c per hour towards childcare for the above age groups – regardless of income.
Calculation of Net Income for the National Childcare Scheme
Net Income is after deductions of Tax, PRSI, USC, and any allowable items listed below …
A Discount of €4,300 for families with 2 children under the age of 15.
A Discount of €8,600 for families with 3 or more children under 15.
Pension contributions, up to the limit allowed by Revenue as a deduction from tax.
Maintenance payments made in respect of a child or former spouse.
Certain social protection payments:
Further education and training allowances provided by Education and Training Boards
Back to Education Allowance
Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance
Humanitarian Assistance Scheme
Back to Work Enterprise Allowance
Back to Work Family Dividend
Blind Welfare Allowance
Personal Reader Grant
Caranua services support
Carer’s Support Grant
Short-Term Enterprise Allowance
Constant Attendance Allowance
Department of Education and Skills Third Level Bursary Scheme
Student Assistance Fund
Student grant (SUSI)
Domiciliary Care Allowance
Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme
Exceptional Needs Payments
Foster Care Allowance
It is proposed that applicants will be able to apply for the childcare subsidy online. Where they qualify, they will be provided with a unique code which they can then take to any registered childcare provider participating in the Scheme.Once the parent and the provider have agreed the hours of childcare required, the provider will register the code on the Scheme’s online system in order to redeem the subsidy.