The universal subsidy is available to all parents who have children between the ages of six months and three years in childcare — as long as the childcare provider is registered with the child and family agency, Tusla and has signed up to Zappone’s affordable childcare scheme. (You may be able to get the subsidy if your child is older than three and has not yet started their free preschool year under the ECCE scheme).
The universal subsidy is worth up to €1,040 a year and is not means-tested. The subsidy is worth up to €20 a week (or €4 a day) if your child is in full-time care; €10 a week (or €2 a day) for part-time care; €7 weekly (or €1.40 a day) for sessional care; and €3.50 a week (or 70c a day) for half-sessional care. Under the scheme, full-time care is defined as five or more hours of care a day; part-time care is between three-and-a-half and five hours of care a day; sessional care is between two-and-a-quarter and three-and-a-half hours of care a day; and half-sessional care is up to twoand-a-quarter hours of care a day.
To apply for the universal subsidy, first check if your childcare provider is offering it. Should your provider offer the subsidy, you must then give it your Personal Public Service Number (PSSN) and date of birth — as well as those of your child. Once you get approved and registered for the universal subsidy, the payment should be received by your provider (and then passed onto you) within two weeks — and every two weeks thereafter. You will not receive the subsidy directly — instead, it will be paid to your childcare provider and deducted from the cost of your childcare.
Although most of the childcare providers registered with Tusla have signed up to Zappone’s affordable childcare scheme, your provider may not have done so — and you will not be able to get the universal subsidy if this is the case. You could consider changing to a childcare provider that has signed up to the scheme if this arises. with or inspected by Tusla.) The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is exploring ways to get more childminders covered by the scheme but it could be a year (or more) before a system is in place which will allow parents to claim if they have hired a childminder. is in full-time care. Should you have already been receiving subsidies under either of these schemes and still be eligible for them, you must re-register with your childcare provider. The new subsidy rates will then be applied automatically.
Should you have never received — or applied for — subsidies under these schemes, check if you are eligible for them. You may qualify for the subsidies if you are a parent or guardian who holds a GP visit card (apart from the under 6 GP visit cards) or a medical card; who is on a low income or is in receipt of social welfare; or who is in school, further education or job training.
Be aware that it will take time to figure out your entitlement (if any) to the means-tested subsidies. “It’s taking between 25 and 40 minutes per child to figure out a parent’s entitlement to the means-tested subsidies,” said Frances Byrne, director of policy and education at Early Childhood Ireland. “The GP visit card [for over 6’s] is being used as the bottom line for this means test. There are a lot of people on low-to-middle incomes who are entitled to a GP visit card — but who have no idea that they are.”
When assessing your eligibility for the GP visit card, allowances are made for childcare costs and rent or mortgage payments, as well as for weekly travel costs to work. To ensure your application for a means-tested subsidy runs smoothly, give your childcare provider all the necessary documents (such as your medical card and PPSN card) to support your application. “This is particularly the case if your childcare provider doesn’t know you — or you are getting childcare from the provider for the first time,” said Byrne. Affordable Childcare Scheme come into play — though, it could take longer.
The new subsidies will be available to parents who have children under the age of 15 in childcare. The maximum subsidy, which will be €5.11 an hour, will be available to eligible parents with a child between the age of six months and one year. As you will be able to get subsidies for up to 40 hours of care a week, this scheme will knock about €10,000 a year off the childcare bills of some parents. The minimum subsidy is €3.76 an hour.
You will qualify for the maximum subsidy if your family’s net income is €22,700 or less. However, once your family’s net income goes over €22,700, the rate of subsidy you’re entitled to starts to fall in line with what you earn. The most your family can earn and still qualify for a means-tested subsidy (albeit a small one) is €80,000 gross income — or €57,134 in net income.