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National Childcare Scheme (NCS)

 The first step in applying for the new National Childcare Scheme is to apply for a Public Services Card, if you do not already have one.

You will need this card to register for a verified MyGovID account.

 Click on the image below to view the Public Services Card Video:

There are two types of subsidies available under the National Childcare Scheme:

 Universal Subsidies are available to all families with children under 3 years old. They are also available to families with children over 3 years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool programme (ECCE). This subsidy is not means tested and provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for a maximum of 40 hours per week.

 What you will need to apply online:

·         A verified MyGovID account

·         The date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) for each of the children you are applying for

 Income Assessed Subsidies are available to families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years. This subsidy is means tested and will be calculated based on your individual circumstances. Your rate will vary depending on your level of family income, your child’s age and educational stage, and the number of children in your family.

If you (and your partner, if you have one) are working, studying or training, the maximum number of subsidised hours available per week are 40.

If you (or your partner, if you have one) are not working, studying or training, the maximum number of subsidised hours available per week are 15.

In both cases the available hours include hours spent in school or preschool. The remaining hours can then be used for 'wrap-around care'. You can read more about wrap-around care in the Frequently Asked Questions.

 What you will need to apply online:

·         A verified MyGovID account

·         Your children’s information such as date of birth and PPSN

·         Your employment and income related details

·         Your partner’s PPSN**

·         Your partner’s employment and income related details** 

**if you are a member of a couple

To see what you might be eligible for you can use the

How will the subsidies work?

The National Childcare Scheme is designed to be flexible, recognising that childcare needs are different for each family. The system has been designed to respond to these needs by providing subsidies which can be applied to the amount of care agreed between parents and providers. 

Parents and providers will continue to work together as they currently do, agreeing the amount of care based on a combination of what a parent needs and what a provider can reasonably offer.

 Providers will continue to set their own fees, sessions and decide their own admissions policies. The subsidy can then be applied to the care agreed, up to the maximum amount available under Scheme limits.

 You can use your subsidy with any childcare provider who is participating in the Scheme. Your subsidy will be paid directly to your chosen childcare provider once you have made arrangements with them. To find childcare services in your area who are participating in the Scheme you can use the Childcare Search.

After your application has been approved, you will receive a unique code, called a CHICK (Childcare Identifier Code Key). The CHICK, along with your child’s name and date of birth, are all your provider needs to register your child on the National Childcare Scheme. After you have confirmed the details registered by your provider, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will pay the subsidy to them on your behalf. Your provider will then subtract your subsidy from your childcare bill, reducing your childcare costs.

The maximum subsided hours per week during term-time and outside term-time are set in the table below:


Age/Education stage of child

Maximum hours per week of subsidy during term-time

Number of weeks of term-time per year

Maximum hours per week of subsidy during non-term time

Prior to qualification for ECCE

40 hours


40 hours

Qualifying for ECCE and not yet in school

25 hours

38 weeks

40 hours

Junior or senior infant classes within primary schools

17 hours

36 weeks

40 hours

First to sixth class in primary schools

12 hours

36 weeks

40 hours

Post Primary Schools

10 hours

33 weeks

40 hours


 The system will calculate by the age of the child how many hours the child will qualify for.

 Reckonable Income

 To apply for an Income Assessed subsidy your reckonable family income must be less than €60,000 per year.

 Reckonable income is calculated by taking your net family income and deducting any allowable items under the Scheme, such as the Multiple Child Discount.

 In other words it is the family income, including social protection payments, after tax, PRSI, USC, and any allowable items under the Scheme have been deducted.

 To calculate your reckonable income the following items can be deducted from your net income:

·         A Multiple Child Discount of €4,300 for families with 2 children under the age of 15

·         A Multiple Child Discount of €8,600 for families with 3 or more children under 15

·       Pension contributions, up to the limit allowed by the Revenue Commissioners as a deduction from tax. More information on pension contributions is available on the Revenue website.

·       Any maintenance payments made by you in respect of a child or former spouse

 The following social protection payments (correct as of March 2019):


Aftercare Allowance

Foster Care Allowance

Back to Education Allowance

FET Training Allowance

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

Guardian’s Payment

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

Humanitarian Assistance Scheme

Back to Work Family Dividend

Mobility Allowance

Blind Welfare Allowance

Personal Reader Grant

Caranua Payment

Rent Supplement

Carer’s Support Grant

Short-Term Enterprise Allowance

Constant Attendance Allowance


Department of Education and Skills Third Level Bursary Scheme Payment

Student Assistance Fund

Diet Supplement payment

Student Grant SUSI

Domiciliary Care Allowance

VTOS Training Allowance

Exceptional Needs Payments

Youthreach Allowance

 If you are applying for an Income Assessed subsidy your income assessment will, in general, be based on your income from the previous tax year. However, you can choose to have your income from the current year assessed if you prefer. You may choose this option if your circumstances have changed from the previous tax year, and you believe that your income from the current year will be significantly less than your income from the previous year.

 There are two ways your income can be assessed:

1) You can choose to have your income automatically assessed using information available from the most recent year from the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. This is called ‘Fast Track’. If you choose to Fast Track your assessment, the Scheme’s IT system automatically retrieves the information from Revenue and Social Protection using your Personal Public Service (PPS) number (and your partner’s, if you have one). This is typically the fastest way to have your income assessed and your application processed, and you don’t need to provide any supporting documents when applying.

2) You can choose to provide supporting documents, such as payslips or Social Protection declarations, which show your income and have them reviewed and assessed by an officer of the Scheme Administrator. These documents provide the same information that would otherwise be provided by Revenue and Social Protection via the Scheme’s IT system under the Fast Track option. All of the supporting documents that you need can be found in the Application Form Guide. They can be uploaded with your application either by scanning them onto your computer or by taking a photograph. 

If you choose to have your income assessed on the current year, you will be required to manually provide supporting documents. Applications which are manually reviewed and assessed will take longer to process than Fast Track assessments.