Help with Childcare Costs

Share this page

Money - Sterling notes and coins

Are you struggling with the cost of your childcare? Whatever your circumstances, you may be entitled to help. Find information on the types of financial help that may be available to you if you are using Registered or Approved Childcare.

Registered and Approved Childcare

If you are entitled to help with your childcare costs, you must be using a Registered or Approved Childcare Provider.  Family Support NI is the public childcare register, which lists all Childcare Providers that are Registered or Approved with Health & Social Services within Northern Ireland.  Search for Registered and Approved Childcare at Family Support NI.  

What are Childcare Costs?

Childcare costs refers to the money that you pay to your Childcare Provider for caring for/looking after your child or children, usually so you can attend work, training or full-time education.

Employers For Childcare's latest annual Childcare Cost Survey (2018) found the average cost of a full-time childcare place in Northern Ireland to be £166 per week.

With such a high proportion of your income going towards childcare costs, it is important to make sure you are receiving all the financial support you are entitled to.

Can I get help towards my Childcare Costs?

There are different types of help towards childcare costs, with support available through the benefits system or tax relief.  It is important to be aware that regardless of your circumstances, even if you are working, in a couple or single, you may still be entitled to help.  

There may be different criteria in place that you must meet to be eligible to apply for help towards your childcare costs.

You should read the criteria for each scheme or benefit carefully, as they may be different, but the most common criteria to qualify may specify:

  • working a minimum number of hours
  • children not to be over a certain age
  • household income not to exceed a certain amount
  • childcare provider must be registered or approved

What help is available?

  • Employers For Childcare Family Benefits Advice Service - provide free, confidential and impartial advice setting out your best options for support, and what is the best choice for your family depending on your specific circumstances. The Advisors are available on Freephone 0800 028 3008 Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm, or by emailing hello@employersforchildcare.org.  (Last year, the team identified an average of £3,589 in financial support for parents who asked for a personal benefits check)
  • Childcare Choices - this is the new government website that shows the different types of help there is available towards your childcare costs
  • Financial Help if you have children - a list of all the different benefits you may be able to claim depending on your circumstances
  • Childcare Costs Calculator - an online calculator which will work out how much money you could get towards registered or approved childcare




You can find more information on the main forms of support with the cost of childcare below:


Working Tax Credit  

Working Tax Credit is money provided to boost the income of working people who are on a low income.

Childcare Vouchers   

Childcare Vouchers are a Government scheme aimed at helping working parents with the cost of childcare. Childcare Vouchers are accepted by childcare providers across Northern Ireland and can be used to pay for all types of childcare as long as it is approved or registered.

This scheme was closed to new entrants on 4th October 2018, however, those that had already signed up can continue to use it.

Parents who had joined the scheme before it closed, remain eligible provided they:

  • joined the scheme prior to 4 October 2018
  • make at least one salary sacrifice (more than £0) within each 52 week period
  • do not leave the scheme in order to use Tax-Free Childcare, and
  • do not change employer

Universal Credit  

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work, which merges together some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now. Universal Credit will replace: Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment, Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.  

Tax Free Childcare  

Tax-Free Childcare is available to help with the cost of childcare, enabling more parents to go out to work, if they want to, to provide greater security for their families.  


If you are a childcare provider you may find the following videos useful. They are designed to help HMRC customers understand tax and comply with the rules:



HMRC YouTube Page  

Webinars for self employed childminders, foster carers & shared lives   


Have Your Say - Childcare Cost Survey!

Employers For Childcare has opened the 10th Annual Childcare Cost Survey and needs to hear from parents and childcare providers! Share your views on the provision of childcare in Northern Ireland, and the support available for parents and childcare providers.   

This important research informs Employers For Childcare’s campaigning for better support for childcare in Northern Ireland to ensure it meets the needs of families and childcare providers.  

Please complete the short survey here:

Parents Survey (complete for a chance to win an overnight stay at Galgorm Resort & Spa)

Childcare Providers Survey (complete for a chance to win £100 Boots voucher)




Related Documents

Employers For Childcare - A Guide to Tax-Free Childcare

HSC Birth to Five Years Booklet - Benefits and your Rights in the Workplace

Childcare Vouchers: Back to Basics Guide

Employers For Childcare - Northern Ireland Childcare Cost Survey 2018


Last Updated: 01/03/2019