The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) operate a number of Childcare Schemes. These schemes provide free or reduced rate childcare to eligible children and their parents.
Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE):
This programme is a universal childcare programme otherwise known as ‘free pre-school’ with the stated objective of providing children with their first formal experience of early learning. It is delivered to children of pre-school age (2 years 8 months to 5 years 6 months) prior to commencing primary school and is provided for 3 hours per day, 5 days per week over 38 weeks per year.
There is an ECCE calculator on our home page for your use.
Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP):The CCSP Saver Programme provides support for eligible parent/guardians on a low income to avail of reduced childcare costs at participating childcare services during the 2020/2021 programme year. The children who were registered for CCSP in the 2019/20 programme year and retain registrations under CCSP Saver Programme are referred to as ‘Savers’.
No new registrations can be made under the CCSP Saver Programme for children who have not been previously registered on CCSP 2019/20.
If a child ages out of the CCSP Saver Programme i.e. turns 15 years of age, the parent will no longer be eligible for reduced childcare costs for this child under this programme.
For the 2020/2021 programme year i.e. 17th August 2020 to 21st August 2021, parents of eligible children who were registered on CCS Resettlement and CCSU prior to the 15th November 2019 will, for the most part, continue to receive their subsidies subject to certain terms and conditions.
Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (CSSR): CCSR was a programme which specifically catered for the childcare needs of Programme Refugees to help support their resettlement and integration into Irish society. Initially the programme catered for children up to 6 years old for the duration of 60 weeks. However, the scheme was expanded to include school aged children up to and including 12 years of age during non-school term (approximately 14 weeks during school holidays) over a two year period.
Where a child who was registered in the 2019/2020 programme year on 15th November 2019, has not completed their full complement of childcare under the CCSR Programme, this can now be taken in the 2020/2021 programme year.
This programme is not open for children who were not previously registered on the 15th November 2019.
Children of Programme Refugees who were not previously registered must now be directly sponsored by the Department of Justice and Equality under the NCS. This includes siblings of children registered on CCSR.
Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (Transitional) (CSSR(T)): As part of the “Rebuilding Ireland – an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness” the DCYA has provided access to free childcare for children of families experiencing homelessness. CCSR(T) is now closed for applications, however the National Childcare Scheme makes special arrangements for some children and families to be sponsored by certain public bodies so they can get childcare under the NCS. Local Authorities can offer sponsorship to support homeless persons with children that are homeless or moving out of homelessness to access childcare services.
Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) Programmes: These programmes provide childcare funding support for parents participating in eligible ETB/Solas vocational training courses, Community Employment (CE) programmes or returning to employment. The NCS replaces the previous targeted childcare programmes and so the TEC programme closed to new registrations on February 14th 2020. The children whose parents were registered on TEC up to that date, and opted to retain their registration under TEC, are referred to as ‘TEC Savers’ and the programme is now known as the TEC Saver Programme. The TEC Saver Programme will continue for an interim period or until the parent is no longer eligible. No new registrations for new children can be made under the TEC Saver programme. The TEC Saver Programme will cease operating once all participants registered before February 14th 2020 have completed their allotted time on their TEC
Each service is obliged to supply a fees list which would show you what you will pay for your childcare. You should also receive a service calendar which will state the days that the service will be closed.
National Childcare Scheme
On the 11th March 2019, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, announced the launch of the National Childcare Scheme, the pathway to quality, accessible, affordable Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare in Ireland.
The National Childcare Scheme provides subsidies to help parents meet the cost of quality Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare. It will replace all previous targeted childcare support programmes with a single, streamlined and user friendly Scheme.
Under the National Childcare Scheme, subsidies are available for families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending any participating Tusla registered childcare service, including any Tusla registered childminder and school age childcare services.
There are two types of subsidies available under the National Childcare Scheme: a Universal subsidy and an Income Assessed subsidy.
Universal subsidies are available to all families with children under 3 years, or families with children over 3 years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool (ECCE) programme. It is not means tested and provides 50 cents per hour for up to 45 hours per week off the cost of a Tusla registered childcare place.
Income Assessed subsidies are available to families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years. They are means tested and will be calculated based on your individual circumstances. The subsidy rate will vary depending on your level of reckonable family income, your child’s age and their educational stage. It can be used towards the cost of a Tusla registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 45 hours per week.
To apply for an Income Assessed subsidy, your reckonable family income has to be less than €60,000 per year. Read more about this in Question 14.
Online applications for the National Childcare Scheme opened on 20th November 2019.
A paper based, postal application is now also available.
You can apply online on the NCS website using a verified MyGovID by clicking on the ‘Sign In’ tab at the top of the screen.
National Childcare Scheme Sponsor Referral
The National Childcare Scheme makes special arrangements for some children and families to be sponsored by certain public bodies so they can get childcare under the NCS. Families with high levels of need, who require childcare for child welfare, child protection or family support reasons, may be referred for childcare support by a specified “Sponsor Body”. Where such a referral is made, the family will automatically qualify for a subsidy for the number of hours considered appropriate by the Sponsor Body without having to satisfy the scheme’s eligibility, income or enhanced hours requirements. The Scheme will cover the cost of the sponsored childcare, with no requirement for any parental co-payment.
The five statutory bodies specified as sponsors in the Childcare Support Act 2018, and the specific groups of children who will benefit, are:
Minister for Education and Skills – for teen parents who are still in education or training;
Minister for Justice and Equality – for refugees and asylum seekers, to enable parents’ participation in education, integration and other relevant supports;
Tusla, Child and Family Agency – to promote the welfare of children, either where there is a child protection concern, or as a form of early intervention or family support;
HSE – to support child development for children who are below the age for participation in ECCE and where there is an identified need for childcare as a developmental support for the child; and
Local Authorities – to support homeless persons with children that are homeless or moving out of homelessness to access childcare services.
Parent Support Centre is now open – Phone (01) 906 8530 – Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm