Following Budget 2022, two significant reforms will be introduced to the operation of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). It is intended that these reforms will make it possible for significantly more families to apply for and access the NCS.
The first change is the discontinuation of the practice of deducting hours spent in ECCE or school from the entitlement to NCS subsidised hours.
Currently, where both parents in a household are in work or study, eligible families can receive a subsidy for up to 45 hours (enhanced hours) per week and, for households where a parent is not in work or study they can receive up to 20 hours (standard hours) per week of subsidy. Where a child is in ECCE or school these hours are subtracted from their entitlement to NCS subsidised hours.
With this change, parents will be able to avail of all NCS subsidised hours regardless of time spent in school or ECCE.
It is anticipated that this will have the most significant impact on children in socio-economically disadvantaged communities and, on services with high concentrations of families from socio-economically disadvantaged communities.
It is expected that this reform will be introduced in Spring 2022. The removal of the
wraparound will increase subsidised NCS hours available to approximately 3,000
children currently eligible for standard hours.
The second reform relates to the universal subsidy. This 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 €1,170 per annum.