Q: Liam, childcare costs are a considerable part of our outgoings each month and nearly as big as our mortgage. It’s a constant struggle for us to make ends meet. Is there any financial help at all for a couple like us with three young children that can help with this outgoing each month?
A: The timing of your question is very good, because the National Childcare Scheme is open for online applications from November 20 and will replace all previous childcare programmes.
We’re being promised it will be easy to use and access, and its aim is to help parents meet the cost of childcare.
A subsidy will be paid to families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending a Tusla registered childcare service.
And there are two types of subsidies, both of which are paid directly to your childcare provider.
The first is available to all families with children under three years of age. It’s also available to families if their child is older than three who’ve not yet qualified for the free preschool programme.
The subsidy is not means tested and provides 50c per hour towards the cost of childcare up to a maximum of 40 hours per week.
So, the subsidy could be worth €20 per week per child to you.
The second subsidy is provided for children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years and is means tested and is calculated based on your individual circumstances.
The amount of subsidy paid will depend on your household income and if your family income is less than €24,000 the maximum amount is paid, and the subsidy will reduce in size as the income increases, and a subsidy will be paid in all cases once your family income is less than €60,000.
For example, if your family income is €32,500 and your child is two years old, the hourly subsidy rate is €4.18, so a maximum of €167.20 would be paid each week which is €8,694.40 over one year.
If your family income was €42,500 and your child was eight years old, the hourly subsidy is €1.93 and the maximum paid each week, €77.20, which is €4,014.40 over one year.
If you decide to apply online, you’ll need a MyGovID account, your child’s DOB and PPS number, you and your partners employment and income details and your PPS numbers.
A paper based application will be available from January 2020.