National Childcare Scheme

The National Childcare Scheme aims to improve children’s outcomes, support lifelong learning, make work pay, reduce child poverty and tangibly reduce the cost of quality childcare for thousands of families across Ireland. 

What is the National Childcare Scheme?

The National Childcare Scheme provides subsidies to help parents meet the cost of quality Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare. It will replace all previous targeted childcare support programmes with a single, streamlined and user friendly Scheme.

Under the National Childcare Scheme, subsidies are available for families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending any participating Tusla registered childcare service, including any Tusla registered childminder and school age childcare services.

What subsidies are available under the National Childcare Scheme? 

There are two types of subsidies available under the National Childcare Scheme: a Universal subsidy and an Income Assessed subsidy.

What is a Universal subsidy?

Universal subsidies are available to all families with children under 3 years, or families with children over 3 years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool (ECCE) programme. It is not means tested and provides 50 cents per hour for up to 45 hours per week off the cost of a Tusla registered childcare place.

What is an Income Assessed subsidy?

Income Assessed subsidies are available to families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years. They are means tested and will be calculated based on your individual circumstances. The subsidy rate will vary depending on your level of reckonable family income, your child’s age and their educational stage. It can be used towards the cost of a Tusla registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 45 hours per week.

To apply for an Income Assessed subsidy, your reckonable family income has to be less than €60,000 per year.

When did the National Childcare Scheme open?

Online applications for the National Childcare Scheme opened in November 2019.

A paper based, postal application then became available in March 2020.


What happens to the previous childcare support programmes?

The NCS was introduced to replace all of the previous legacy schemes. The NCS provides for a limited transition period for those previously benefitting from legacy schemes.

The existing “saver” arrangement was extended, to ensure that no one loses out in the initial transition to the new Scheme. Additional funding was secured to extend the savers beyond August 2020. This means that persons who were registered on the CCS or TEC schemes before they closed and who retain their eligibility will be able to remain on them indefinitely for example until they no longer require Early Learning and Care and School-Age childcare.

This is a limited measure, and once these remaining entitlements are concluded, the NCS will replace these legacy scheme entitlements as has always been intended.

No new applications can be made under the legacy schemes.

If you have any questions regarding the existing programmes you can email or contact TCCC on 062-64200