Parents – Further Information, National Childcare Scheme

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Parents – Further Information

Universal Subsidy

The Universal subsidy is available to all families with children under three years. It is also available to families with children over three years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool programme. The Universal subsidy provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours per week. It is not means tested and can typically be calculated within minutes of applying via the Scheme’s online system.

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 Subsidy

An Income Assessed subsidy is 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. The subsidy rate will vary depending on your level of family income, your child’s age and their educational stage. It can be used towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours per week where parents are working, studying or training, or in circumstances where a parent is unavailable to care for a child. Where parents are not working, studying or training, the subsidy will be paid for up to a maximum of 15 hours per week.

The maximum subsidy rates by age are set out below. Maximum rates are payable where reckonable* family income is under €26,000 per year. Rates reduce on a sliding scale as income rises but subsidies are payable in all cases where reckonable family income is 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.

The table below is a helpful guide which shows the hourly subsidy rate payable based on reckonable family income and the age and educational stage of a child. The maximum subsidy rates are payable where the reckonable income is €26,000 or less, and the rates decrease on a sliding scale as reckonable income increases up to the Scheme’s maximum threshold of €60,000.

For example, if your reckonable family income is €32,500 per year and your child is 2 years old, your hourly subsidy rate will be €3.61. This amounts to €144 per week for a child using 40 hours of childcare.

If your reckonable family income is €47,500 per year and your child is in school, your hourly subsidy rate will be €1.38. This subsidy can be used for the hours of childcare spent outside of school, or the ‘wrap-around’ hours. You can read more about wrap-around hours here.

Reckonable
Income
Rate per hour if
your child is
0-1 years old
Rate per hour if
your child is
1-3 years old
Rate per hour if
your child is
over 3 and
not yet in school
Rate per hour if
your child is
School Age
€26,000 €5.10 €4.35 €3.95 €3.75
€27,500 €4.90 €4.18 €3.78 €3.58
€32,500 €4.22 €3.61 €3.19 €3.03
€37,500 €3.54 €3.05 €2.61 €2.48
€42,500 €2.87 €2.48 €2.03 €1.93
€47,500 €2.19 €1.92 €1.45 €1.38
€52,500 €1.51 €1.35 €0.87 €0.83
€57,500 €0.84 €0.78 €0.29 €0.28

What items can be deducted under the Scheme?

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 this can he found here.
  • 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 services support Rent Supplement
Carer’s Support Grant Short-Term Enterprise Allowance
Constant Attendance Allowance Springboard+
DES Third Level Bursary Scheme Student Assistance Fund
Diet Supplement Student grant (SUSI)
Domiciliary Care Allowance VTOS Training Allowance
Exceptional Needs Payments Youthreach Allowance

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

What will happen to the existing childcare programmes?

The existing childcare programmes will operate until the launch of the National Childcare Scheme in October. To make the transition as smooth as possible families can choose to make the switch to the new Scheme immediately, or remain on their current programme for one final programme year.

You can find information on moving from your current programme to the National Childcare Scheme in the FAQ section here.

The free preschool programme (also known as ECCE, the Early Childhood Care and Education programme) will not be affected by the National Childcare Scheme, and will continue to operate.

Which Subsidy am I eligible for?

The type of subsidy you are eligible for depends on your individual family circumstances, such as your family income and your child’s age. Useful resources to guide you will be available on the website in the coming months. A Subsidy Calculator will also be available when the Scheme launches. The Subsidy Calculator is a useful tool, which can help you in understanding which subsidy may benefit you most.

For illustration purposes, some sample families are described below. In each case, the family qualifies for 40 hours of subsidised childcare per week.

Jenny has one child who is 2 years old and needs 40 hours of childcare per week. She is a lone parent, working full-time with a gross income of €26,500 per year. Under the Scheme, her reckonable family income is €26,000 and she qualifies for a subsidy of €175 per week or €9,100 per year.

Siobhan and Jack

Siobhan and Jack have two children; a two year old who needs 40 hours of childcare and a 5 year old who needs 17 hours of afterschool care per week. Siobhan is working full time and Jack is studying. They have a gross income of €64,000 per year. Under the Scheme, their reckonable family income is €43,200 and they qualify for a total subsidy of €128 per week or €6,656 per year.

Charlie and Sam

Charlie and Sam have three children; a one year old and 2 year old twins who all need 40 hours of childcare per week. Charlie works full time, while Sam works part time. They have a gross income of €90,000 per year. Under the Scheme, their reckonable family income is €51,400 and they qualify for a total subsidy of €176 per week or €9,152 per year.

How will I receive my Subsidy?

The National Childcare Scheme recognises the importance of choice for families. As such, you can avail of your subsidy by registering with any childcare provider participating in the Scheme.

Your subsidy will be paid directly to your chosen childcare provider once you have made arrangements with them. 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 your hours of childcare, 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.

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 hours 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 hours of care agreed, up to the maximum amount available under Scheme limits. Providers will simply subtract the subsidy from their published fee, giving parents access to lower childcare costs.

How to Apply

Applications for the National Childcare Scheme can be made online using your verified MyGovID. A paper-based application can also be submitted by post. The Scheme is targeted to open to applications in October 2019, with the first payments flowing from November 2019.

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