Press Release 01/12/2021 Minister O’Gorman publishes the findings of a 12-Month Review of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS)

  • Review reveals the National Childcare Scheme is having a positive impact on use of early learning and childcare, workforce participation and family finances.

Roderic O’Gorman, T.D., Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has today published the findings of a 12-Month Review of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS).

The Review, which was undertaken by independent consultants, looked at the experience of families accessing the NCS during the first year of operation as well as the experience of providers offering the Scheme. An analysis of application data, including processing times and NCS subsidies awarded was also undertaken, in addition to engagement with key stakeholders.

Findings from the Review point to a number of positives for families accessing the NCS, with large proportions of parents reporting that the Scheme had positively impacted their use of early learning childcare, their engagement in work or study and their family finances.

The report found that:

  • Overall, 38% of families reported that half or more of their early learning and childcare costs were covered by the NCS.
  • More than half (56%) reported that the Scheme meant they had more money to spend (with 11% reporting they had much more money to spend).
  • Just over a quarter (26%) reported that they were using more early learning and childcare.
  • Just over a quarter (28%) reported that they were working more (with 8% reporting they would not be in work without the NCS).

The Review also found that the majority of families applied online for support under the NCS, with 66% of these applications processed within one day and 29% processed within 2 to 10 days. Moreover, most families found the application process easier than expected.

Findings from the Review also identified some emerging issues with the Scheme that need to be addressed, including low awareness of the Scheme among parents, administrative issues experienced by providers and barriers for some families accessing supports under the Scheme, including through the NCS sponsorship arrangements.

In parallel with the publication of the 12 Month Review of the National Childcare Scheme, the Minster also published a Work-Study Test Evidence Review.

The findings from both Reviews have already informed enhancements to the National Childcare Scheme announced in Budget 2022, specifically:

  • An extension to the NCS universal subsidy to all children under 15 from September 2022, benefitting up to 40,000 children.
  • An end to the practice of deducting hours spent in pre-school or school from the entitlement to NCS subsidised hours from spring 2022, benefitting an estimated 5,000 children from low income families.

In addition to this, an action plan has been developed by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability and Youth and Pobal (the NCS Administrator) that will respond to emerging issues with the Scheme.

Announcing the publication of the reports, Minister O’Gorman said:

“Government is committed to making high-quality early learning and childcare affordable and accessible to all children.

“The findings from the Review published today show the National Childcare Scheme has brought us some distance to realising this commitment– with families reporting that supports under the National Childcare Scheme has increased their use of early learning and childcare, their engagement in work or study as well as improved their family finances. The enhancements to the NCS I announced as part of Budget 2022, informed by the findings from this Review, will bring further benefits to these and other families.

“The Review did identify some emerging issues with the Scheme – among vulnerable families and among providers. Officials in my Department are taking the necessary actions to address these issues to ensure going forward this scheme works in the best interest of all children and families, and administrative issues identified by providers are reduced.”

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