National Childcare Scheme

National Childcare Scheme

The National Childcare Scheme opened in November 2019. It supports families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending any participating Tusla registered childcare service, including any Tusla registered childminder.

 National Childcare Scheme Update

Removal of Wrap Around Care from National Childcare Scheme 

 
As part of Budget 2022 changes introduced by Minister Roderic O’Gorman, from 2 May 2022 the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) will no longer be deducting hours spent in pre-school or school from NCS awards (wraparound care). This means that parents will be able to use their full awarded subsidised NCS hours regardless of whether their children are in pre-school or school.

This allows families whose parents are not in work or study to avail of more childcare hours for their children outside of pre-school/school hours.

Changes to the Early Years Hive

From this date, there will only be one ‘Claimed Hours’ option for service providers to enter hours when registering a new claim or amending an existing claim, opposed to ‘Claimed Hours’ and ‘Non-Term Hours’. Services can still increase the claimed hours during ECCE or school holiday weeks where more care is requested by the parent. Once submitted, the hours for these weeks will no longer be listed separately as ‘Non-Term Hours’ on the Claim Weeks page of the portal. The hours for each award week will now be displayed in the same ‘Claimed Hours’ column.

Where previously Claimed Hours and Non-Term Hours were visible as separate entries on the Allocations page with different Allocation Sources, there will now only be one single entry for that week with the Allocation Source of ‘Claimed Hours’.

Important NCS claim rules reminder

We would like to take this opportunity to remind services of some important rules related to the registration of NCS claims:

You can only claim for hours the child is attending your service

Hours claimed under NCS cannot exceed the operating hours of the service

NCS hours should not be claimed for the hours that a child is attending ECCE or school

Amending claims and parent confirmation

All NCS applicants with an active NCS award are being notified of this change to the rules via portal notification or by post from 20 April 2022.

These hours will be automatically added to the NCS applicant’s existing awards, they are not required to apply for a new award. However, please note that the hours on active, confirmed claims will not be automatically increased. If an applicant wants to make use of more hours of care, they must agree this with their service provider who must then update the claim accordingly. Claims must be confirmed by the applicant before payments can flow to the provider. Please communicate with applicants to ensure any claims agreed and registered on the Early Years Hive are confirmed by the parent.

What’s Changing?

  • The idea of ‘wrap-around care’ is being removed from the NCS
  • There will no longer be a distinction between term and non-term hours on NCS claims and the Early Years Hive
  • The maximum hours will be available to claim on the CHICK for all award weeks
  • Services will only have one ‘Claimed Hours’ option to enter per week. The Non-Term Hours option is being removed.
  • Where previously Claimed Hours and Non-Term Hours were visible as separate entries on the Allocations page with different Allocation Sources, there will now only be one single entry for that week with the Allocation Source of ‘Claimed Hours’.
 
What’s Not Changing?
  • Claims can and should still be amended when providing increased hours of care during ECCE or school holiday weeks
  • Claims (new or amended) must still be confirmed by the parent before they are active and payments to service providers can flow
  • You can only claim for hours the child is attending your service
  • Hours claimed cannot exceed the operating hours of the service
  • NCS hours should not be claimed for the hours that a child is attending ECCE or school
 
 
 Click HERE for a link to the National Childcare Scheme website and Subsidy Calculator

 

Under the National Childcare Scheme, parents use an online application system to apply directly for subsidies.
There are two types of supports available under the Scheme: a Universal subsidy and an Income Assessed subsidy.

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 (ECCE). The Universal subsidy provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 45 hours per week

Income Assessed

An Income Assessed subsidy is available to families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years using Tusla registered childcare. This subsidy is means tested and will be calculated based on individual family circumstances. The subsidy rate will vary depending on the level of family income, a child’s age and educational stage, and the number of children in their family. The subsidy can be used towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 45 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 20 hours per week. In all cases, the maximum subsidised hours are inclusive of time spent in school or pre-school

Sponsored Subsidies

In addition to the two types of subsidy available under the Scheme, there is a system for addressing the needs of families who require particular additional assistance. For example, in the case of families for whom childcare is required on child welfare or child protection grounds, or for whom childcare is a necessary element of family support, a specified statutory body (“sponsor body”) may refer a child to the Scheme for childcare support.

Where a referral is made by a sponsor body, the family will automatically qualify for a subsidy without having to satisfy the Scheme’s eligibility, income or maximum hour requirements. Details on the operation of sponsored referrals are available on the website www.ncs.gov.ie

Subsidies will typically be awarded on a yearly basis. Providers and parents will receive a notification alerting them when a subsidy is due for renewal. If either a parent or a provider is not satisfied with, for example, a subsidy award or the amount of the subsidy paid in respect of a child, the parent or provider, as appropriate, will have the right to have the decision reviewed by an officer of the Scheme Administrator.

If they are still not satisfied following the outcome of the review, they will have a further right of appeal for details available on the website www.ncs.gov.ie

How the Subsidies will work

The National Childcare Scheme is designed to be flexible, recognising that childcare needs are different for each family. Subsidies are awarded as an hourly rate, along with a maximum number of hours for which this rate is payable. The award is then broken up into segments, which show any changes to the subsidy rate and hours over the course of the year, such as a change in the child’s age or educational stage.

The hourly rate of subsidy illustrates to parents their level of subsidy. Parents and providers will continue to work together as they currently do to decide on the hours of childcare that are needed and can be provided. These hours are a combination of what a parent needs and what a provider can reasonably offer. Providers will continue to set their own fees, sessions and admissions policies. The hours of childcare available to parents are solely at the discretion of each provider. The hourly subsidy rate can be applied to the hours agreed between the parent and provider. Where these hours are the same as the maximum hours available to the parent under their subsidy award, all of the hours of care will be subsidised.

For example, where a parent has been awarded 45 hours and has agreed 45 hours of childcare with their provider, then all 45 hours will be subsidised. Where the hours agreed are greater than the maximum hours available to the parent under their subsidy award, the remaining hours of care will be unsubsidised and paid for in full by the parent.

Where a referral is made by a sponsor body, the family will automatically qualify for a subsidy without having to satisfy the Scheme’s eligibility, income or maximum hour requirements. Details on the operation of sponsored referrals are available on the website www.ncs.gov.ie

Subsidies will typically be awarded on a yearly basis. Providers and parents will receive a notification alerting them when a subsidy is due for renewal. If either a parent or a provider is not satisfied with, for example, a subsidy award or the amount of the subsidy paid in respect of a child, the parent or provider, as appropriate, will have the right to have the decision reviewed by an officer of the Scheme Administrator.

If they are still not satisfied following the outcome of the review, they will have a further right of appeal for details available on the website www.ncs.gov.ie

Participation in the National Childcare Scheme

To participate in the National Childcare Scheme you must; be registered with Tusla and enter into a contract with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth in respect of the National Childcare Scheme. Contracts are for a 12 month period and are renewable each programme year. Involved in this process your Tusla registration will be checked and you will be required to have an up to date fees list and service calendar completed on the Hive. The contract will then be made available for the Owner/Primary Authorised User to sign electronically.

NCS Service Provider Training Videos

There is a dedicated National Childcare Scheme YouTube playlist for childcare providers and stakeholders.

This playlist will continually be updated and added to over time.

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