Know your rights: National Childcare Scheme (NCS)

I just got a new job. I have a 10-year old child who needs care after school. What help can I get with the cost of childcare?

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) helps parents to meet the costs of childcare. The NCS provides an income assessed subsidy for children up to 15. This is means-tested. As you are working, you can apply for an income assessed childcare subsidy.  The number of subsidised childcare hours you get depends on the number of hours you work and the age of your child. The amount of subsidy you get depends on your income. You can use your subsidy for childcare hours and costs for childcare before and after school and during school holidays.

To qualify for subsidised childcare:

  • You or your partner must be the parent of the child or acting as the child’s parent
  • You must be ordinarily resident in Ireland and have a legal right to live here
  • You must provide your PPS number and the PPS number of your child
  • Your child must be aged between 6 months and 15 years

Your childcare provider must be registered with Tusla. You must apply for the subsidy, but it is paid directly to your childcare provider and they then subtract your subsidy from your childcare bill.

Your income can be assessed in 2 ways:

  • Automatically using information from Revenue and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). This is the fastest way to be assessed.
  • Manually – you must provide documents such as payslips or DEASP declarations that show your income. 

If you are living with a partner (such as a spouse, civil partner or co-habitant) your combined reckonable income is assessed.   Your reckonable income is the total amount of your net family income from all sources after tax, PRSI and USC have been deducted.  However, some social welfare payments are treated as ‘allowable deductions’.  The citizensinformation.ie website has more details about the allowable deductions.

You get the maximum subsidy rate if your reckonable income is €26,000 or less. Your subsidy rate decreases as your income increases up to the threshold of €60,000.  You can use the subsidy calculator on the NCS website to help you work out how much you will get.

The number of childcare hours you get depends on the hours you (and your partner, if you have one) work, study or train.  As you are working, you are entitled to up to 45 hours of subsidised childcare per week. You will get a reduced number of hours during term time (because your child is in school).  But during the school holidays, you are entitled to the full 45 hours’ subsidy. 

You apply online at ncs.gov.ie. You can also apply by post by contacting the National Childcare Scheme Parent Support Centre. Call (01) 906 8530 (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday) or email NCS@dcya@gov.ie .

The NCS website has a step-by-step guide to the online application process. You can read more about the NCS on the citizensinformation.ie website.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.