There are a number of financial supports available to certain families in Ireland for early learning and care which are in addition to the two year ECCE / free pre-school programme.
In September 2017 my Department introduced a non-means tested universal subsidy for all children in registered services from 6 months of age up until they become eligible for the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. This amounts to up to €20 a week or €1,040 per year for children in full time early learning and care.
My Department also offers targeted supports under the following programmes:
Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP):
This programme provides funding support, targeting low income families in community childcare services and private childcare services. It is available to families in receipt of Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection payments or who possess a medical card. It is available to children from six months to 15 years of age. For example, a parent in receipt of One Parent Family Payment with a medical card may receive a maximum of €145 per week per child in subsidies towards their early learning and care fees.
Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) Programmes:
These programmes provide funding support for parents participating in eligible Education and Training Boards /Solas vocational training courses, Community Employment (CE) programmes, or returning to employment. The maximum subsidy provided is €145 per child per week. These subsidies are available to children up to 15 years of age. Specific schemes included under TEC are as follows:-
- After-School Child Care Scheme(ASCC) - provides subsidies towards afterschool care for primary school children for certain categories of working parents and parents on Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection employment programmes (not including Community Employment).
- Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) - provides subsidies to certain training course participants on courses provided by the Education and Training Boards (ETB, formerly FAS and VEC) and Secondary Schools.
- Community Employment Childcare (CEC) - provides subsidies for early learning and care and school age childcare for children of parents who are participating on Community Employment schemes.
Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (CCSR):
This programme provides up to 60 weeks of early learning and care and school age childcare support on a part-time basis to Programme Refugees to support their resettlement and integration into Irish society, up to 5 days per week for children aged 0 – 5 years and for primary school going children during the school holidays. The parents are not charged a fee.
Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (Transitional) (CCSR(T)):
As part of the “Rebuilding Ireland – an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness” the DCYA provides access to free early learning and care and school age childcare on a part-time and sessional basis for pre-school children (ages 0 – 5) and primary school-going children during the school holidays for families experiencing homelessness. In addition, a daily meal is provided for each child. The parents are not charged a fee.
National Childcare Scheme (NCS):
With the exception of the TEC schemes, no new registrations can be made on these programmes after November 15 as they will be replaced by the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) which is due to open for online applications on 20 November, with subsidies flowing from 25 November. There will be two kinds of subsidy available under the NCS:
A universal subsidy is payable for children between the ages of 24 weeks and 36 months (or until the child qualifies for the Early Childhood Care and Education programme if later) who are availing of childcare services from an approved childcare service provider or childminder. The universal subsidy is not means-tested and provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours per week (maximum €20 per week per child, or €1040 per annum).
An income-related subsidy is payable for children from 24 weeks to 15 years of age who are availing of childcare services from an approved childcare service provider or childminder. The level of subsidy payable is determined by the family’s reckonable income (i.e. gross income minus tax, PRSI and other deductibles and minus any applicable multiple child discount).
Many parents availing of current targeted early learning and care and school age childcare schemes will be better off under the new NCS and able to access higher levels of subsidisation. Many others will qualify for financial support for the first time.