The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) opened to online applications on 20th November 2019. I am pleased with the high volume of applications received since the Scheme launched. To date, over 31,500 applications have been received, relating to over 40,900 children. Additionally, 3,646 childcare providers have contracted to participate in the Scheme.
The offline, paper based application process went live on 13th March 2020. Families can continue to opt to apply online for subsidies under the NCS, or, they may choose to apply offline, by requesting a paper application form from the NCS Parent Support Centre.
For most families, the quickest and easiest way to apply and receive a subsidy is by using the online application process. This requires a verified MyGovID account and families can apply directly at www.ncs.gov.ie. The innovative, purpose-built IT system of the NCS aims to process a universal application in a matter of minutes, and an income assessed application in a matter of days.
Alternatively, families who wish to apply for subsidies by post can contact the NCS Parent Support Centre on 01 906 8530 and the appropriate form ( based on their particular circumstances) will then be posted out for completion. It does not appear that there was pent up demand for the paper based system. As of end April, only 27 applications had been received.
Regarding the issue of backdating subsidies, it has always been communicated by my Department that subsidy awards are payable from the week they are claimed, and not the date of application. It is a key aspect of the scheme that all claims are paid in arrears based on the attendance of a child. As such, the child must be registered with a childcare provider and the provider must confirm that attendance. This is a key financial and governance control to ensure we are maximising the benefits of public monies and that the investment is following the child.
Further information and resources for parents are available at www.ncs.gov.ie.