Parents are urged to avail of supports available to them under the National Childcare Scheme, including new supports introduced in recent weeks, a local TD has said. Deputy Emer Higgins was speaking following the extension of the universal subsidy under the National Childcare Scheme to all children under 15 using registered childcare, with up to 40,000 families estimated to benefit by receiving up to €1,170 per annum off the cost of childcare.
Deputy Higgins said: “Childcare is a massive expense for parents and meeting the cost can be a huge stress for families. “Many parents aren’t aware that the National Childcare Scheme provides 2 types of childcare subsidy for children under 15, one being an income-assessed subsidy and the other being a non-means tested universal subsidy that anyone with a child under 15 in childcare can apply for. “The universal childcare subsidy is paid at €0.50c an hour up to a maximum of 45 hours a week to all eligible children. It’s not means tested and you can use the subsidy calculator on the NCS website to help work out what your entitlement would be. It’s very easy to apply and I would encourage all parents availing of childcare to take a look at this scheme – there could be money there waiting for you to draw it down.
“To be eligible for the second subsidy, the means tested subsidy, your family must have an annual reckonable income under €60,000 and the rate of subsidy you receive will be calculated based on your individual circumstances, your child’s age and educational stage, and the number of children in your family,” added Deputy Higgins. “A recent survey by Ipsos MRBI shows that many parents aren’t claiming their entitlement under the National Childcare Scheme and awareness of supports under the scheme is low so the Department of Children will be undertaking a campaign to raise awareness. “I am encouraging parents to visit www.ncs.gov.ie or call the Parent Support Centre on 01 906 8530 or talk to their childcare provider to make sure they are availing of the new and existing financial supports that they are entitled to,” said Deputy Higgins.
Deputy Higgins continued, “Now that all children under 15 in regulated school-age childcare are entitled to the universal subsidy, there will be many parents who are now eligible for support who were not previously.” The results from a nationally representative survey of more than 500 families, undertaken in July by Ipsos MRBI, found that; Less than half (48%) of parents were aware of supports available under the National Childcare Scheme. 32% of parents using regulated early learning and care for children not yet in school reported they did not receive any state subsidy, despite many having an entitlement to support under the National Childcare Scheme. 80% of parents using regulated school-age childcare reported they did not receive any state subsidy.
“Budget 2023 will see the continuation of significant investment being made by government to support parents with the costs of education and childcare and it is so important that parents ensure that they are fully availing of supports that are available to them,” concluded Deputy Higgins.