The National Childcare Scheme is due to launch in October 2019, replacing all previous targeted programmes with a single, streamlined and user-friendly Scheme, and enabling some families become eligible for subsidies for the first time.

Applications for the current programmes can be made up until the National Childcare Scheme goes live (target date October 2019), after which applications to these programmes will close. The National Childcare Scheme will not affect the ECCE Programme and will ‘wrap-around’ the free preschool programme, providing financial support towards the cost of childcare for the hours spent outside of pre-school.

Parents will apply directly to the Scheme for financial support, meaning providers will no longer need to manage parental paperwork in order to apply for subsidies. The Scheme will operate under a single system that will ensure streamlined administration for providers and establish a sustainable basis for State investment in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare over the next decade. A dedicated Call Centre for queries will be operational in April/May 2019.

Subsides are paid to providers weekly. Providers certify the payment by means of a weekly reporting return on the continued attendance of the children receiving subsides.

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

Universal Subsidies are available to all families with children under three years old. They are also available to families with children over three 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 up to a maximum of 40 hours per week.

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 individual circumstances. The subsidy can be used towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours for parents who are working, studying or training, or in circumstances where parents are unavailable for childcare, and a maximum of 15 hours if you are not working, studying or training.

For the full range of resources and information on the National Childcare Scheme including Provider and Parent Information Booklets, Frequently Asked Questions and a Timeline for Implementation see below

Information Booklet for Parents

Information Booklet for Providers

Provider Overview of the National Childcare Scheme

Universal and Income Assessed Subsidies

Implementation Timeline for the National Childcare Scheme
Countdown to the National Childcare Scheme – Timeline for Preparations – English (PDF)

The ECCE Programme

Frequently Asked Questions Document

Link to National Childcare Scheme Website