Parent Portal of the National Childcare Scheme takes Best Citizen / Customer Experience Award

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is delighted to announce that the Parent Portal of the National Childcare Scheme won the ‘Best Citizen / Customer Experience Award’ at the Public Sector Digital Transformation Awards, which took place last night.

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) is Ireland’s first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for early learning and childcare. Through this entitlement, the NCS aims to improve children’s outcomes, support lifelong learning, reduce child poverty and tangibly reduce the cost of quality early learning and childcare for thousands of families across Ireland.

Since first introduced, the Scheme has been highly successful, with over half a billion euros of exchequer funds being provided as NCS subsidies between October 2019 and July 2023.

Uptake of NCS subsidies have also grown year on year. Between January and September 2023, almost 170,000 children benefited from the NCS: a 60% increase on the same period in 2022.

The Parent Portal, and the ICT system which underpins its operation, ensures a highly tailored system that awards subsidies while taking into account of a multitude of household situations. All that is needed to apply for the NCS is a verified MyGovID account and the date of birth and PPSN for each child being applied for.

The system includes an automated income assessment module, where information is gathered from Revenue and the Department of Social Protection and then collated through an award calculation engine to provide the applicant with a household specific subsidy entitlement. 98% of all income assessed awards having been calculated under automated income assessment, with just 2% of income assessments completed based on manual proof of income, substantially increasing the ease with which parents can access their entitlements.

The system also has a paper based route for those who do not wish to apply online.

The effectiveness of the portal advances the NCS aim of providing a system of progressive financial support towards the cost of early learning and childcare which incorporates equity in access, efficiency and responsiveness, parental choice, and good governance.

This award recognises that the NCS application system is centred on the needs of families. The portal was designed using human centric design, with reducing the ‘average number of clicks to apply’ as a key performance indicator. Since its launch, 424,046 applications have been made to the NCS, with a highly successful digital engagement rate of 94% being submitted electronically.

The majority of parents surveyed find the application process easy. During July and August of this year, 52% of applications were processed in under one day, with a further 30% processed within four days.

Speaking today, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’ Gorman said:

“I am delighted that the National Childcare Scheme won the ‘Best Citizen / Customer Experience Award’ at the Public Sector Digital Transformation Awards last night.

Almost 170,000 children benefited from the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) in the first nine months of 2023 and, with 94% of applications being submitted electronically, this award acknowledges that the NCS Parent Portal offers a fast and efficient method to apply.”

Anna Shakespeare, Pobal CEO, said:

“I am thrilled that Pobal and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) took home the award for ‘Best Citizen / Customer Experience’ for the National Childcare Scheme Parent Portal at the inaugural Public Sector Digital Transformation Awards. The award reinforces the work we do collectively to deliver a platform for families that’s easy to use, effective and efficient. This win is not only a great honour but a testament to the hard work carried out by my colleagues across Pobal and the DCEDIY.”