The National Childcare Scheme is our pathway to truly accessible, affordable, quality childcare. The NCS scheme came into effect on November 20th 2019 and replaces all previous targeted childcare programmes with a single, streamlined and user-friendly Scheme to help parents meet the cost of quality childcare. 

Under the National Childcare Scheme, subsidies 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 and school age childcare services. 

You can search for services who offer the National Childcare Scheme here:

There are three types of subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme: an Universal subsidy  an Income Assessed subsidy and a Sponsor Referral. 

Universal Subsidies

Are available to all families with children under 3 years old, or families with children over 3 years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool (ECCE) programme. It is not means tested and provides 50 cent per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to 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. The subsidy can be used towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 45 hours if you are working, studying or training, or in circumstances where you are unavailable for childcare, and a maximum of 15 hours if you are not working, studying or training. 

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.

For further information on the subsidies including FAQ’s and How to Apply visit the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) website. 

The NCS website also includes the NCS Subsidy Calculator; a useful tool to help you estimate how much subsidy you may be eligible to apply for.

The National Childcare Scheme Parent Support Centre

Is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm Telephone: 01 906 8530.

You can also contact DLR County Childcare Committee for information and support.