The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) is a national scheme of financial support for parents towards the cost of quality early learning and childcare. The NCS is structured around the two core subsidies:
- A universal subsidy for children from age 24 weeks until eligible for the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. The universal subsidy is not means-tested and is available to all qualifying families of any income level.
- An income-assessed subsidy for children from age 24 weeks to 15 years. 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) and age of the child.
As announced in Budget 2022, reforms will be introduced to the operation of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS).
The universal subsidy will be made available to all families with children up to the age of 15 from September 2022. Parents do not have to undergo an assessment to avail of this subsidy.
The universal subsidy provides €0.50 cent per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place up to a maximum of 45 hours a week, which totals to €1,170 per annum.
It is intended that this reform will make it possible for significantly more families to apply to the NCS. It is estimated an additional 40,000 children may benefit from the extension of the universal subsidy.