National Childcare Scheme

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

Once your child is over six months old, the scheme provides two types of childcare subsidy:

  • A universal subsidy for children aged between 6 months and 3 years. Children over 3 who have not yet qualified for the are also eligible. This subsidy is not means tested and is available to all children who meet the criteria regardless of your income.
  • An income-assessed subsidy for children up to fifteen years. This subsidy is means tested and the amount you receive will depend on your level of income.

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 taken into account.

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.

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

If you are eligible for a childcare subsidy, itwill 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.

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.