THE National Childcare Scheme (NCS) provides financial support to help with parents/guardians’ childcare costs.
There are two types of childcare subsidy for children over six months of age:
1: A universal subsidy for children under three. Children over three who have not yet qualified for the ECCE are also eligible. It is not means tested.
2: An income-assessed subsidy for children up to 15. It is means tested.
Minister Roderic O’Gorman (Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth – DCEDIY) announced two changes to the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) following the recent Budget 2022.
The changes will result in more parents getting more subsidised hours for their children attending early learning and care (ELC), school age childcare (SAC) and Childminding services registered with Tusla.
Changes to the universal NCS subsidy
The universal NCS subsidy provides €0.50 per hour towards the cost of a registered Childminding, ELC and SAC place, for a maximum of 45 hours per week. This is worth up to €1,170 off parents’ annual costs. The universal subsidy is not means tested – all parents can claim it. Following this Budget, the universal subsidy will be made available to all families with children under 15 years of age under this (currently the universal subsidy is available to children before they start ECCE, the universal pre-school programme). This change will be introduced in September 2022.
Change in practice of deducting hours spent in pre-school from the entitlement to subsidised NCS hours
There will be a change in the practice of deducting hours spent in pre-school or school from the entitlement to subsidised NCS hours. This means that parents will be able to use their full awarded subsidised NCS hours regardless of whether their children are in pre-school or school. If the parents award is for 20 hours and their child is in school for more than 20 hours a week parents will be able to use their NCS hours for 20 hours of after-school care per week during the school term. This change will be introduced in 2022. ELC and SAC service providers will be able to let parents know when the change is introduced.
How to apply for the NCS
All families with children under the age of 15 attending Tusla registered Childminding, ELC and SAC services can apply for NCS subsidies. Parents can find information on www.ncs.gov.ie and can apply online or by post.
If parents are applying online the following information will be required:
– A verified MyGovID account
– The date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) for each of the children
If applying by post, parents should phone the NCS Parent Support Centre on 01 906 8530 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday to request a postal application form.
If parents are already receiving NCS subsidies lower than the new 50 cent per hour universal subsidy it is not necessary to reapply. Any award increase because of this change will be automatically applied. Anyone with an award below 50 cent will be raised to that amount and other awards may see some small increases on foot of this new minimum.
If parents are already getting an NCS subsidy, they will receive an email when the practice of deducting hours spent in pre-school or school from the entitlement to subsidised NCS hours changes. The provider will then be able to register the child for the new hours and parents will be able to confirm those hours. This change will be introduced in 2022.
Childminders working in their own homes, who register with Tusla can take part in Department funding schemes, including the NCS. Currently few childminders have registered with Tusla as most childminders are outside the scope of regulations and registration.
In April 2021 the Department published the National Action Plan for Childminding, which sets out a phased and incremental approach to bringing all non-relative childminders within the scope of regulation and support.
The National Action Plan commits to introducing childminder-specific regulations and opening up the National Childcare Scheme to childminders within two to three years. More information is available at https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/df207-national-action-plan-for-childminding-2021-2028/
Parents whose children attend services that are signed up to the new funding stream will benefit from improved affordability. Participating services will commit, from September 2022, not to increase their fees from September 2021 levels. This means that parents will not be faced with fee increases, and the full affordability effects of the NCS, and the universal ECCE Pre-school Programme, will be felt by parents
Parents can find the list of Tusla registered Childminding, ELC and SAC services and published NCS & ECCE fees list by county at: https://www.ncs.gov.ie/en/childcare-search/
Parents are welcome to contact Coiste Cúram Leanaí Phort Láirge/Waterford Childcare Committee for further information and support in relation to the Government Schemes and their childcare options. Phone: (051) 295045 Email: [email protected] Website: www.cccw.ie or www.myccc.ie