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.

For further information: ECCE Parent Information leaflet

Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP): This programme provides childcare funding support targeting low-income families in private childcare services and community childcare services.

Community Childcare Subvention Universal (CCSU): All families are eligible for financial childcare support for children between the ages of six months and the time at which they are eligible for the free pre-school programme. This subsidy will NOT be means tested and therefore will be available for families at any income level. To qualify the parent must provide both the child and parent PPS number to the childcare provider.

Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (CSSR): This programme provides childcare support to Programme Refugees to support their resettlement and integration into Irish society.

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.

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.

For further information click here: TEC Parent Information leaflet

For any additional information please contact Carlow County Childcare Committee on 059 9140244 


visit: Department of Children and Youth Affairs 

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 40 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 40 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 will be available from January 2020.

The existing childcare support programmes will continue for the 2019/2020 programme year (September 2019 to August 2020)

This means that for the 2019/2020 programme year, both the National Childcare Scheme and the existing support programmes will run.

No new applications to the existing support programmes can be made from 15th October 2019.

If you are already getting supports from an existing programme

  • remain on your current programme for the 2019/2020 programme year, or
  • switch over to the National Childcare Scheme when it opens in November

If you decide to change at any stage throughout the year, you can stay on your current support programme until your provider registers you for the National Childcare Scheme, and you confirm this registration.

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.

Parent Support Centre is now open – Phone (01) 906 8530 – Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm