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Affordable Childcare Case Study Series

July 12, 2017

Since the launch of Affordable Childcare last month, ECI has been working to get information to our members, as well as giving daily feedback to the Department of Children & Youth Affairs about the website and other aspects of the changes. We are aware that there are some very general issues and many concerns, and some very specific and technical queries, especially for providers who are unfamiliar with the various existing schemes. The timing of the changes, happening as they are over the summer period, has also made things very difficult and has added to the pressure which many providers are feeling.

Over the next week we will be releasing case studies, examining various scenarios for both providers and parents. We hope these case studies will help to increase the understanding of how More Affordable Childcare is intended to work.

Sophie’s Montessori and Creche

  • 20 children in community, full time service
  • Zero-Threes & ECCE
  • CCS, CCSP, TEC &  ECCE places
  • Parent with GP Visit Card

Sophie’s Montessori and Crèche is a small rural community service that caters for babies, toddlers and pre-school children. The service has nine children aged under three, who all take up a full day place (some for only three or four days a week), and 11 pre-school children. Pre-school children are those availing of the daily free pre-school session under the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECCE) programme. The service does one ECCE session in the morning and five of the children in the ECCE room stay on in the service for the full day when their ECCE hours finish. A number of children in the service are on the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme and one is on the Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) programme.

Owner-manager Sophie read about the changes coming in September in the information pack sent out by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and has decided to offer the discounts available to parents of children in her service. Sophie speaks to all of the parents in her service and encourages them to investigate whether or not they are eligible for the new subsidies available. She directs them to www.affordablechildcare.ie.

Sophie has five children in her service who are not availing of the ECCE, CCS or TEC programmes. All of these children are under the age of three and are eligible for the universal provision. The universal subsidy gives a reduction of €20 per week for the children in full-time 40 hours of care over 5 days. The parents of the children taking up a full time place for three and four days a week are eligible for a discount of €12 and €16 a week respectively.

Each of the parents provide Sophie with their own and their child’s PPS numbers, as well as the child’s date of birth. Sophie activates the CCS Plus grant agreement on PIP and applies for the universal subsidy on behalf of the parents. Pobal confirms these applications.

After reading www.affordablechildcare.ie Jade, mother of Jack, aged 2 years old and attending Sophie’s for five full days a week, enquired about Jack’s eligibility for the Band D targeted subsidy. Jack is not availing of the ECCE, CCS or TEC programmes. Jack has a GP visit card because all children under 6 are entitled to free doctor’s visits, regardless of how much their parent/s earn. However, this is not what would entitle Jack to the Band D targeted subsidy. Instead it is the standard GP visit card, which is assessed on parent/s’ salary after Tax and PRSI are deducted and also takes into account housing, transport to work and existing childcare costs.

Recently Jade had an application for a GP visit card for herself approved. Because of Jade’s GP visit card Jack is eligible for the targeted subsidy under Band D. Jade provides proof of her GP visit card and Sophie applies for the subsidy through PIP on her behalf.

The children in Sophie’s Montessori and Crèche eligible for the CCS and TEC programmes continue to be eligible and stay on these programmes. Sophie re-registers these children on PIP in the same way she did last year. The rates of subsidy for both the CCS and TEC programmes have increased and the amount parents with children on these programmes pay for Sophie’s service is reduced.

The children in the ECCE room are not eligible for the universal subsidy. Two of the children doing ECCE and staying for the full day are also on the CCS programme. These children stay on this programme after being re-registered on PIP and their rates of subsidy are also improved.

 Tír na nÓg Creche

  • 30 children in private, full time service
  • ECCE, Zero-Threes & School-Age children
  • Full time, part time and sessional places

Tír na nÓg crèche (not one of the real Tír na nÓgs!) has 30 children in their service. There are 11 ECCE children, 10 children aged zero-three years and nine school-age children. These children avail of a mix of full time, part time and sessional places. Tír na nÓg is a private full time service that is open for 50 weeks of the year (closed for 2 weeks at Christmas). Tír na nÓg has decided to activate the CCS Plus grant agreement so that they can provide Affordable Childcare to parents from September.

They inform all parents that have children in the service aged zero-three years that they are eligible for the universal subsidy. They also direct all parents using their service to check targeted subsidies to check if they are eligible for any of the four bands depending on their individual circumstances.

The service completes their fees list and calendar for CCSP on PIP and marks the two weeks at Christmas that their service is closed as non-payment weeks.

There are three sessional children in the service who are in the ECCE room but who will not be eligible for ECCE until January. The parents have asked can their children avail of the universal subsidy. As the universal subsidy is only €7 per week for each sessional child, Tír na nÓg has just decided to lower the sessional fees by €7 for parents instead of applying for the universal subsidy as it is too much paperwork.

All parents of full time and part time children who are eligible for the universal subsidy provide the service with the parents’ and the child’s PPS numbers and dates of birth. There are four parents who are eligible for the targeted subsidy including two parents who have children enrolled in the afterschool. The parents must bring documentation to prove their eligibility for one of the four bands to the service and Tír na nÓg upload this to PIP.

The service deducts the subsidy amounts from the parents’ fees.

Maria and Jack

  • A single parent with one child (two years old)
  • Full day place three days a week.
  • One Parent Family Payment

Maria is a parent of a child – Jack (two years old).  Jack is in a private childcare service three days a week – full day. Maria is in receipt of the One Parent Family Payment and also has a medical card. Maria wants to know what supports she can get for her childcare.

Maria has seen on the affordablechildcare.ie website that she is eligible for Band A. Maria asks her childcare provider and they inform her that they are providing the affordable childcare from September 2017 to parents.

Maria’s current fee is €100 a week for Jack. The band A subvention rate per week full time is €145. As Jack is only in the service three days a week this payment will be worked out on a pro rata basis.

The provider calculates a daily rate of €29 (€145 ÷ 5 days). Therefore, the subvention for Jack will be €87 (€29 x 3 days). This will be taken off Maria’s fee of €100 per week. Maria’s payment to the service will be €13 (€100 minus €87) per week. The childcare service confirms this fee with Maria and informs her that she needs to bring documentation confirming that she is in receipt of the One-parent Family Payment so that they can register her child on PIP and she can get the discount on her fees. 

Marc, Helen and Caleb

  • Two parents, both working
  • One child (16 months)
  • Full day place, four days a week

Marc and Helen are parents living in Swords. Both are in full time employment, Marc working five days and Helen working four. Their son Caleb is 16 months and attends a local childcare provider four days a week. Marc and Helen pay €40 a day for Caleb’s place in the crèche, which amounts to €160 a week.

Marc and Helen heard about More Affordable Childcare first in the Budget announcements last year. Since then they’ve been keeping a close eye on what discount they will be eligible for. 

Marc and Helen have looked at the criteria for the targeted subsidies and are confident that they are not eligible to receive those. They are however eligible for the universal subsidy which is not means tested.  

The full-time rate (i.e. five hours of childcare a day or more) for the universal subsidy is €20 a week or €4 a day. Because Caleb attends the local crèche full-time for four days a week, the weekly discount Marc and Helen will be eligible for is €16 (€4 x four days).

This means that, come September, Marc and Helen’s local crèche will receive €16 from Pobal and they will pass on this discount to Marc and Helen. Marc and Helen will pay the reduced rate of €144 (€160 minus €16).

Marc and Helen will be eligible for this discount until the time that Caleb qualifies for entry to the ECCE Programme.


George, Alex, Anna and Sarah

  • Two parents, both working
  • Two children (one and three years old)
  • Full time creche place
  • Parents who qualify for the means tested GP Visit Card

George and Alex are in employment full time. Their two children – Anna (three years old) and Sarah (one year old) are in a private childcare service full time. They have heard the ads for affordable childcare on the radio. They are not sure if they are eligible for anything. Anna will be starting the ECCE scheme in September.

They ask their childcare provider who tells them that they are eligible for the new universal subsidy for Sarah. Their childcare provider also tells them to check if they are eligible for the means tested GP visit card as they may get a bigger discount on their fees because this is the eligibility criteria for band D of the targeted subventions. George goes on to the HSE website and fills out an application for a medical card (the same application is used to check for GP visit card eligibility). George and Alex are surprised to find out that they are eligible for a GP visit card as the means test takes in to account childcare costs and rent/mortgage payments. George and Alex receive their GP visit card in the post and inform their childcare service that they are now eligible for band D.

Their current fees are €240 a week for Anna and €260 a week for Sarah. Anna will be on the ECCE scheme in September so this weekly fee will reduce to €190.98 per week (€240 minus €49.02). Sarah will be eligible for band D subvention from September which is a reduction of €50 per week. Their fee for Sarah will reduce to €210 (€260 minus €50) a week. George and Alex will need to give the service a copy of their GP visit card so that the childcare provider can apply on PIP for the targeted subsidy.

To help our members, ECI has set up a dedicated email address for queries about Affordable Childcare: affordablechildcare@earlychildhoodireland.ie and is being looked after by our colleagues Niall and Helen, from 9am-5pm every day.  We will try to help you navigate the new measures and just as importantly we will gather technical and other queries which we will then seek replies from DCYA and Pobal on your behalf. We will reply to you within 24 hours, even if we can’t get the full answer to your question and in that case, we will keep you updated on the progress of your enquiry.  All of the queries, no matter how small, will help other members better understand the changes and their implications for settings.

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