National Childcare Scheme

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) provides financial support to help parents to meet the costs of childcare. 

The scheme provides two types of childcare subsidy for children aged over 6 months and up to 15 years (children aged 15 do not qualify). These are; 

  • A universal subsidy which is not means tested. The universal subsidy was extended to children aged up to 15 on 29 August 2022. 
  • An income-assessed subsidy which is means tested.

You cannot get the Universal Subsidy and an income-assessed subsidy at the same time. However, you can apply for both and then choose which subsidy is of greatest financial benefit to you. 

If you are parenting alone, only your reckonable income is calculated and assessed. If you are living with another adult who is not your partner (such as a parent or other relative), their income is not considered. 

If you are living with your partner (such as a spouse, civil partner, or co-habitant) your combined reckonable income is assessed. Your partner’s income will be included even if they are not your child’s parent or guardian. If your partner is living apart from you temporarily their income is still included. 

How much subsidy will I get? 

If you want to get an indication of how much subsidy you may receive before applying, then you can use  this calculator. 

Your childcare provider (this includes childminders and school-age childcare services) must be registered with Tusla and have a contract with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to deliver the National Childcare Scheme. For a list of registered and approved providers contact your local City and County Childcare Committee here. 

If you are eligible for a childcare subsidy, it will be paid directly to the childcare provider which you choose, but you must first apply for the subsidy yourself. Your childcare provider will subtract your subsidy from your overall childcare bill. 

It was announced in Budget 2024 that the National Childcare Scheme subsidy rate will increase from €1.40 to €2.14 per hour from September 2024. 

Where can I apply? 

You can apply online or by paper application on the National Childcare Scheme website below. 

Discontinued schemes

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) has replaced previous childcare schemes such as the Community Childcare Subvention Programme (CCS) and Training and Employment Childcare Programmes (TECs). 

Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) programmes closed to new applications on 14 February 2020. If you are registered in a TEC programme, you can choose to stay on TEC until you are no longer eligible or transfer to the NCS. 

Registrations to the CCS and CCSPlus childcare programmes are now closed for new applicants. 

Last modified: 14 November 2023