Returning to Ireland with children
Like many Irish people living abroad, you may decide to move home because you want your children to grow up in Ireland. You may want them to be educated in Ireland, or simply be closer to grandparents and extended family.
This page outlines the supports and services you may need when returning to Ireland with children.
If you need to get an Irish passport for your child, read our page Irish citizenship and passports for children born abroad.
If you have a baby after returning to live in Ireland, you can read Returning to Ireland and having a baby.
Accessing childcare, school and college
There is a range of childcare options for pre-school children.
If your child is over 2 years and 8 months when you return, they may be eligible for free pre-school hours provided through the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme.
Alternatively, you may consider home-schooling in Ireland.
If your child has a disability or special needs
In Ireland, children with special educational needs may attend:
- Classes in mainstream primary schools
- Special classes in mainstream schools
- Special schools, if they have a particular type of disability or special needs
Your child may also get additional care and educational support from special needs assistants (SNAs).
Find out more about the types of special education in Ireland.
You may also want to read:
- Special needs education in primary schools
- Special needs education: post-primary
- School transport for children with special needs
- Assistive technology grant for students with disabilities
If your children are going to third-level education, they may qualify for free third-level fees. Your child must have been resident in Ireland or another EU country for 3 out of the previous 5 years.
They may also be eligible for the Student Grant Scheme (also known as the SUSI grant). The student grant may be used to cover your child’s living costs, their Student Contribution, the cost of essential field trips, or tuition fees if they do not qualify for the Free Fees Scheme.
Read more about Accessing the education system on your return to Ireland.
Your children’s health
Some children’s health services are provided free of charge. In general, these services are part of maternity and infant welfare services, health services for preschool children and school health services.
Children in Ireland are also entitled to free vaccination and immunisation services.
You do not have to pay in-patient hospital charges in any public hospitals if your child is under 16.
All children under the age of 8 are entitled to free GP visits with a GP visit card. The GP visit card for children under 8 also covers specific assessments at ages 2 and 5. It also covers care for children with asthma.
If your income is below a certain level, you and your children may also be entitled to a medical card.
Read more about health services for children in Ireland.
Child Benefit and other social welfare supports
The Department of Social Protection gives social welfare payments to families and children.
Child Benefit is a monthly payment to parents or guardians of children under 16 (in some cases, you can get Child Benefit for children over 16).
To qualify for Child Benefit, you must be habitually resident in Ireland. If your child was not born in Ireland, or their birth is not registered within the required time (3 months), you must complete the Child Benefit (form CB1) (pdf).
Other social welfare supports
Read more about the different types of social welfare payments for families and children.
Employment rights for parents in Ireland
Parents who are employed in Ireland are entitled to various types of statutory leave from work. Statutory leave is the minimum amount of leave you are entitled to, so your employer may give you more than this.
Types of statutory leave for parents in employment include:
- 26 weeks maternity leave (and up to 16 unpaid weeks)
- 24 weeks adoptive leave (and up to 16 unpaid weeks)
- 2 weeks paternity leave
- 7 weeks parent’s leave
- 26 weeks unpaid parental leave
- 5 days leave in any 12-month period for serious medical care
Read more about Leave for parents.
Caring for a child with a disability
Children with disabilities are entitled to the same services and family benefits as all other children. There are additional supports and services available to parents and carers of children with disabilities. They apply whether the child was born with a disability or acquired it later.
Community care services include:
- Public health nurses
- Social workers
- Occupational therapists
- Chiropody services
- Speech and language therapy services
- Respite care
If you are caring for a child with a disability you may qualify for financial support. For example, you may be eligible for:
To qualify for Carer’s Allowance or Domiciliary Care Allowance, you must satisfy the ‘habitual residence condition’.
Read more about Caring for a child with a disability.