Know Your Rights: Childcare Subsidy

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Know Your Rights has been compiled by Kerry Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public…

Question: I am due to return to work after maternity leave in a few months, and I am looking into my childcare options. Our income is modest, and I’m afraid that we will struggle to meet the cost of a full time crèche. My friends tell me there is help available, but the information I’ve found so far is very confusing. There are just so many different schemes! Can you help?

Answer: Returning to work following maternity leave can be stressful, and the high cost of childcare is something that worries many new families.

However, there is help available, and you will be pleased to hear that the system for receiving childcare assistance has been greatly simplified with the introduction of the new National Childcare Scheme (NCS).

The National Childcare Scheme offers two levels of funding:

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• A universal subsidy that is available for children aged between 6 months and 3 years. You must be legally resident in Ireland, be the parents or guardians of the child and provide a PPS number for both you and your child to qualify.

The universal subsidy is €0.50 per hour. When your child reaches 3 years, he or she will be eligible for the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE), which is also a universal programme.

• An income assessed subsidy that is available for children aged between 6 months and 15 years. As well as satisfying the conditions for the universal subsidy, your reckonable income must be below €60,000 per year.

The NCS replaces all the existing schemes (with the exception of the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) which will continue to operate alongside the NCS), although parents and guardians who are receiving assistance through an existing programme can opt to stay on their current scheme until August 2021.

Subsidised hours

If you are working or studying, you will receive a maximum of 40 hours per week of subsidised childcare. During school term time, this is decreased to reflect the time your child spends in school. If you are not working or studying, you will receive a maximum of 15 hours per week of subsidised childcare.

Assessable income

The income based subsidy is based on how much money you and your spouse or partner earn, less some allowable deductions.

The calculation is based on your take home pay. This is your pay (and your spouse or partner’s pay) after tax, PRSI and USC have been deducted.

If you are receiving a social welfare payment (including Child Benefit), this is counted as income, unless it is an allowable payment.

If you have 2 children under 15, you can deduct €4,300 from your reckonable income.

If you have 3 or more children under 15, you can deduct €8,600 from your reckonable income.

You can also deduct allowable social welfare payments, including:

• Back to Education Allowance and VTOS Training Allowance
• Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance
• Back to Work Family Dividend
• Blind Welfare Allowance
• Carer’s Support Grant
• Domiciliary Care Allowance
• Guardians and Foster Care allowances
• Rent Supplement
• Student Grant

To see the full list of allowable deductions, visit

You will be entitled to the maximum subsidy rates if your reckonable income is below €26,000 per year. The rate decreases on a sliding scale to the cut-off point of €60,000 per year.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

• Contact us in Tralee on Tel: 0761 07 7860 Killarney 0761 07 7820, Listowel 0761 07 7840 Kenmare 0761 07 7810, & Caherciveen 0761 07 7780. Outreach Services; Killorglin weekly, Dingle monthly, please call Tralee for more information.

Information is also available online at and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000

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