NCS – National Childcare Scheme

What is the National Childcare Scheme?

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) was announced in Budget 2017 and was officially launched on 20th November, 2019. NCS provides financial support to help parents to meet the costs of childcare.

NCS is the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare. It establishes an equitable and progressive system of universal and income-related subsidies for children up to the age of 15. It also provides an innovative and user-friendly online application process to access those subsidies.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) is responsible for NCS policy, legislation and oversight but day-to-day administration of the scheme is carried out by Pobal.


Application for NCS can be made either online on the NCS website or through an offline application.

There are two types of subsidies available under NCS: Universal and income assessed. To see what you might be eligible for you can use the Childcare Subsidy Calculator.

Subsidies are paid directly to your childcare provider, however you must apply for the subsidy yourself. Once approved, you’ll receive a CHICK (Childcare Identifier Code Key) which you must bring to your chosen childcare provider. Your provider will then claim the subsidy and subtract this amount from your childcare bill.

Children can also be referred for an NCS Sponsor subsidy, based on child welfare, child protection, family support or other specified grounds. In cases of Sponsor Referral, there is no income assessment involved and the parent will pay no fees to the childcare provider.

The National Childcare Scheme Parent Support Centre is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and offers support and guidance for parents and guardians on the application process for NCS. The Parent Support Centre can be contacted by phone at 01 906 8530.


Service Providers

NCS is open to all childcare providers who are registered with Tusla and who have an NCS contract with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

The scheme is administered on the Early Years Hive portal. This user-friendly system has been designed to reflect the needs of providers. Providers can independently manage the following for NCS the Hive:

  • Self-Service – edit and update account details
  • Manage users
  • Register CHICKs (Childcare Identifier Code Keys)
  • Complete weekly attendance returns
  • Submit and track exemptions
  • View payments (provisional/approved)

Helpful guidance material for service providers can be found on the Early Years Hive on both the NCS programme and on using the portal itself. These can all be found under the Resources tab and include: NCS FAQ, NCS programme information, NCS Downloads.

For further assistance, Service Providers can contact the Early Years Provider Centre (EYPC) by logging a ‘Request’ on the Early Years Hive or by emailing

The EYPC is open from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. To help provide service excellence, team training takes place on Wednesday mornings from 9am-10am.

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