The National Childcare Scheme (NCS)

The National Childcare Scheme is a landmark new Scheme for Ireland. It is the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare. It establishes an equitable and progressive system of universal and income-related subsidies for children up to the age of 15. It also provides an innovative and user-friendly online application process to access those subsidies.

Through all of the above, the National Childcare Scheme aims to improve children’s outcomes, support lifelong learning, make work pay, reduce child poverty and tangibly reduce the cost of quality childcare for thousands of families across Ireland.

What is the National Childcare Scheme?

The National Childcare Scheme is our pathway to truly accessible, affordable, quality childcare.  Since October 2019 it will has replaced all previous targeted childcare programmes with a single, streamlined and user-friendly Scheme to help parents meet the cost of quality childcare.

Supports 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.

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

Universal subsidies are available to all families with children between 24 weeks and 15 years of age. This subsidy is not means tested and provides €1.40 per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for a maximum of 45 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 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 45.

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 20.

Your subsidy can be used outside of school or ECCE hours, for example:

  • childcare used before preschool or school starts in the morning (e.g. breakfast club)
  • after-school childcare
  • childcare used outside of preschool or school term weeks

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

Sponsor Referral


The NCS makes special arrangements for vulnerable children and families, a referral is required from a Sponsor Body for a Sponsor Referral.

Section 14 of the Childcare Support Act 2018 allows special arrangements where a child can be referred by certain Statutory Organisations for an NCS subsidy where childcare is needed on child welfare, child protection, family support or other specified grounds. There are strict criteria applicable for a referral to be made. The need for a referral is determined by the relevant Sponsor Body and their decision is based on the particular need of the child in line with their defined criteria.

NCS Sponsors Team can be contacted Mon-Fri 9am-5pm by phone on 01 906 8535 or email

National Childcare Scheme Tusla Sponsor Referrals
Parent Information

Helpful Links for Parents

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