Universal childcare subsidy

Introduction

Since 21 August 2017, a universal childcare subsidy is available to children in Tusla-registered childcare who are over 6 months but under the age they can start the free Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme.

The subsidy is deducted from the overall bill you get from your childcare service.

From November, you should apply for the universal childcare subsidy using the National Childcare Scheme.

See ‘How to apply’ below

COVID-19 and the Universal Subsidy

From 6pm on 12 March 2020, all childcare facilities in Ireland closed due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

There are special financial supports for childcare providers during the pandemic period. If your childcare provider takes up these financial supports, you will keep your childcare place and you do not have to pay childcare fees while childcare facilities are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can find more information about childcare and COVID-19.

Rules

To qualify for the Universal Subsidy:

  • Your child must be above the age of 6 months but below the age when they can start the free ECCE scheme
  • Your childcare provider must be registered with Tusla and in a contract with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to offer the Universal Subsidy.

The subsidy is not means-tested.

You cannot get the Universal Subsidy and an income assessed subsidy at the same time. However, you can choose which subsidy is of greatest benefit to you.

Rates

Since 21 August 2017, a universal childcare subsidy is available to all children in Tusla-registered childcare above the age of 6 months.

Universal Subsidy:

Session type Weekly subsidy Daily subsidy
Full-time (over 5 hours) €20 €4
Part-time (over 3 and a half hours and up to 5 hours) €10 €2
Sessional (over 2 and a quarter hours and up to 3 and a half hours) €7 €1.40
Half-sessional (one hour and up to 2 and a quarter hours) €3.50 €0.70

If your child is attending childcare for part of a week, you can get the universal childcare subsidy on a pro-rata basis. For example, if your child is attending childcare for 2 full days each week, the amount of subsidy you could get is €8 per week (€4 x 2 days = 8).

How to apply

From November 2019, you should apply for the universal subsidy under the new National Childcare Scheme at ncs.gov.ie. You will need a verified MyGovID account and the date of birth and Personal Public Service (PPS) number for each child you are applying for.

A paper-based application became available on 13 March 2020. You can apply by post by contacting the Parent Support Centre – ‘Where to apply’ below. These applications will take longer to process and may affect the start date from which your subsidy can be paid.

The subsidy will be paid directly to your childcare provider and will be deducted from the cost of your childcare.

Your childcare provider must be registered with Tusla. You can get a list of contracted childcare providers on ncs.gov.ie.

You can read more in our document on the National Childcare Scheme (NCS).

Where to apply

To find childcare providers in your area offering the Universal Subsidy contact your City or County Childcare Committee.

For more information on the National Childcare Scheme visit www.ncs.gov.ie or contact the National Childcare Scheme Parent Support Centre. Call +353 1 906 8530 (9am - 5pm Monday to Friday) or email NCS@dcya.gov.ie.

Page edited: 8 April 2020