The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) has been introduced to give financial support to parents who need help meeting the cost of childcare. Up to €230 a week can be claimed by eligible parents depending on the criteria they meet within the scheme. This scheme runs parallel with The Early Childhood Care and Education scheme (ECCE), which provides a subsidy of €2,451 per year based on 5 days per week of care (€64.50 over 38 weeks). Childcare providers in Ireland benefit from having software that helps to manage children entering the nursery under either of these schemes, the reasons of which will be explained in this article.
The NCS has the following features:
- Income-based subsidies: Factors such as family income, number of children and outgoings determine the amount of subsidy a family receives.
- Children are eligible up to the age of 15.
- There are three subsidy types: Universal (available to all families with children between 24 weeks and 15, regardless of income), Income Assessed Subsidy (this is means tested) and Additional Needs Subsidy (for families with children who have additional needs).
- Childcare providers must be registered and approved by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to accept children under the NCS.
- Parents must register for an online account on the NCS website to apply and manage their subsidies.
The Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme ECCE was introduced in 2010 and has the following features:
- It is available to children aged between 2 years and 8 months to 5 years and 6 months on the 1st of September or 1st of January of the relevant year.
- It has a free preschool year, meaning children can have 3 hours of childcare per day, five days a week, for 38 weeks for free.
- The ECCE program encourages social, emotional, and cognitive development in children.
- Parents can apply for the ECCE program directly through participating childcare providers.
- Children with additional needs can use the ECCE program to access support and resources to help the child in education.
If your childcare centre is accepting children under either the ECCE or NCS scheme (or both), there will be administrative tasks that need to be completed in order to remain compliant and ensure the smooth running of the centre. Cheqdin software can help you to do this in the following ways:
The number of children coming into the nursery under either of these schemes will need to be monitored, with their schedules and fees reported accurately. If you are in the scheme, you’ll need to consider the available space, staff-to-child ratios, and align with the occupancy guidelines provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The ECCE/NCS schemes only give a certain number of free preschool hours, so childcare providers will need to manage occupancy to accommodate enrolled children while complying with regulatory requirements. Cheqdin can help you to do this by monitoring and overseeing occupancy and ensuring the correct number of ECCS/NCS hours are being allocated, and that the schedule is workable and achievable.
Providers participating in the ECCE scheme will need to track and monitor child attendance. This is to ensure compliance and accountability alongside ECCE/NCS guidelines. These guidelines ask childcare providers to report on child attendance in order to remain eligible for the scheme and receive the correct funding allocation. It also ensures that childcare providers can plan resources and ensure the program’s effectiveness. Cheqdin can help you to track attendance and flag any issues that might conflict with the guidelines set out by the ECCE/NCS so that these can be fixed proactively and ensure the nursery setting remains eligible.
Administrative tasks relating to billing for the ECCE/NCS can be made easier when you have an effective software solution. One of these tasks is fee reporting. All childcare providers on this scheme must complete a fee list at the beginning of each academic year. The fees list should show details of all the fees charged to parents and be separated into a weekly fee schedule including details of any additional childcare hours or optional extras and discounts.
It should also include fees that would normally be payable with regard to a child of the same age not participating in the ECCE programme. Cheqdin makes it easier for you to track and report fees, without the manual admin and risk of administrative errors. Cheqdin can also help automate your payments and auto-reconcile transactions with our direct debit solution for Irish childcare providers.
Check out CheqBill for easier, smarter billing and reporting.
We want to keep you up to date with all the ways Cheqdin can help you provide excellent services to children and families in Ireland. Check out the following resources.