Social welfare guide for parents

What payments am I entitled to?

Written by spunout


Social welfare supports for parents can sometimes seem complicated. You might wonder whether your social welfare payment will be affected by the number of kids you have, whether you are working or not, or if you choose to go back to education.

With the right information, you can easily determine what social welfare supports you are eligible for. Below you will find a short summary of all the social welfare supports for parents.

Remember, any of the forms linked below will be available in your local social welfare or Intreo office. Find a list of social welfare and Intreo offices. If you need help filling out any of the forms, you can ask the staff at the social welfare office for help.

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is a payment of €140 per month per child that can be claimed by parents or guardians of children under 16 years-old, or up to 18 years-old if the child is in full-time education, Youthreach, or has a disability.

Am I eligible for Child Benefit?

Yes. All parents and guardians of children are entitled to it no matter what your income is.

How do I apply?

If your baby is born in Ireland, the Department of Social Protection will begin the Child Benefit claim automatically on your behalf once you register the birth of your baby. The Department will send you a form to fill out, with all the instructions you need on it. You will then be able to pick it up at your local post office every month.

If your child was not born in Ireland, or if you did not register their birth within three months, you must fill in Child Benefit (form CB1) within 12 months of arriving in Ireland. Those who are not EU or EEA citizens must meet the habitual residence condition to qualify for Child Benefit in Ireland.

One-parent Family Payment (OFP)

The One-Parent Family Payment is one of the social welfare supports for parents who are raising children without the support of a partner.

Am I eligible for OFP?

To qualify for One-Parent Family Payment:

  • Your youngest child must be under seven, or meet one of the age limit exceptions
  • You must be the parent, step-parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian of a child
  • You must be the main carer of at least one child
  • You must not live with a partner, spouse or cohabiting
  • You must satisfy the means test

You can work and get One-Parent Family Payment. The amount of payment you get depends on your weekly means. You can earn up to €165 per week and qualify for the full One-Parent Family Payment. Half the remainder of your gross earnings per week is assessed as means and you may qualify for a reduced payment.

How do I apply?

Fill in this form and post it to your local Intreo or Social Welfare Office.

If you are single, you should apply within the first three months of the birth of your baby.

If you are separated, divorced or no longer in a civil partnership, you should apply within six months of the date you separated from your spouse or civil partner. You must be separated for three months before you can apply.

Working Family Payment (WFP)

Working Family Payment is one of the social welfare supports for parents who have jobs and receive low pay. It is a weekly payment.

Am I eligible for WFP?

You must have at least one financially-dependent child who is under the age of 18, or between 18 and 22 and in full-time education. To qualify for WFP, your average weekly family income must be below a certain amount for your family size. You must be working for at least 38 hours every fortnight and you can combine your weekly hours with your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant’s hours to meet this condition. However, you cannot use time in self-employment. Your job needs to be likely to last at least another three months.

You cannot get Working Family Payment if you are:

  • receiving Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • receiving Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment
  • receiving Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme
  • receiving Farm Assist
  • participating in Community Employment Scheme
  • participating in Gateway
  • participating in Rural Social Scheme
  • participating in the Tús scheme

You can still get WFP if you receive:

  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension
  • Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance
  • Back to Work Family Dividend

To apply, you need to fill out this form and send it to:

Working Family Payment Section
St. Oliver Plunkett Road
Co. Donegal
F92 T449

You can get a copy of this form at your local social welfare or Intreo office.

Maternity Benefit

Maternity Benefit is a payment available to people who are on maternity leave and covered by social insurance (PRSI). It is paid for 26 weeks (156 days).

Am I eligible for Maternity Benefit?

You need to have paid a certain amount of PRSI payments to qualify.

How do I apply?

You should apply for Maternity Benefit at least six weeks before you intend to go on maternity leave. If you are self-employed, you should apply at least 12 weeks beforehand.

You can apply for Maternity Benefit online at If you would prefer to apply by post, complete this form and send it to:

Department of Social Protection

McCarter’s Road
F93 CH79

If you are receiving One-Parent Family Payment, you can claim half-rate Maternity Benefit. If you are claiming Working Family Payment, you are still entitled to claim Maternity Benefit.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age. Children can start ECCE when they are two years and eight months of age and continue until they transfer to primary school.

Is my child eligible for the ECCE Scheme?

Children can start ECCE when they reach two years and eight months of age and continue until they go to primary school once they are not older than five and a half at the end of the pre-school year. Children can only be enrolled in pre-school in September. There are no longer entry points in January and April.

If your child is over the age requirement due to special needs, they may be able to get an exemption from the upper age limit for the ECCE Scheme.

You can check to see if your child is eligible for the ECCE scheme.

How does the ECCE scheme work?

How the scheme works depends on the type of childcare that your child attends and how they operate their services. Read more information on the different type of childcare services and what you are entitled to.

How do I apply for ECCE?

To get a place for your child on the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme, you need to apply to a participating playschool or daycare centre. You will need to provide a copy of your child’s birth cert or passport and PPS number on application.

You can find a participating childcare provider near you by contacting your local City or County Childcare Committee (CCC).

You can apply to this scheme regardless of what other social welfare payments you receive, or if you are employed or not.

Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

The Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is a scheme that helps parents to pay for for uniforms and footwear for their children.

Am I eligible to receive this payment?

To receive this payment, your child or children must be aged between four and 17 on or before 30 September of the year you apply. If they are in secondary school, they must be aged between 18 and 22 on or before 30 September.

You must also be:

  • Receiving certain social welfare payments, or
  • Getting a Daily Expenses Allowance, or
  • Taking part in certain employment schemes, or
  • Taking part in a recognised education or training course, or
  • Attending a SOLAS, Fáilte Ireland or LES training scheme

How do I apply?

The BTSCFA scheme is open for applications from June to September 30.

Some people will get the Allowance automatically without having to complete a form. Once everyone who qualifies automatically has been contacted by the Department of Social Protection (usually in mid-June), application forms will be available for those that need to apply on

Back To Education Allowance

Back to Education Allowance is a scheme available to lone parents or people on certain social welfare payments who wish to go back to education.

Am I eligible for this scheme?

To receive Back to Education Allowance, you must be over 21 and in receipt of certain social welfare payments, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance or One-Parent Family Payment.

How do I apply?

When you get accepted into a course, you should complete this form and return it to your local Intreo Centre. You need to get written confirmation from the college registrar or admissions office that you are registered as a full-time student. You must apply before you start your course.

Back To Work Family Dividend (BTWFD)

The Back to Work Family Dividend aims to help one-parent families, or families in which both parents have been receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit for a long time, to get back to work. It allows parents to keep receiving some of their social welfare payment for a period of time after they go back to work.

Am I eligible for BTWFD?

In order to get BTWFD you must have at least one qualified child and have been receiving one of the following payments until immediately before you got a job: Jobseeker’s Allowance, Jobseeker’s Benefit, One-Parent Family Payment or Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment. Your job must be in the Republic of Ireland and you must take up the work within four weeks of exiting your welfare scheme. You and all of your family members will have to sign off all primary social welfare payments in order to receive BTWFD.

How do I apply?

If you qualify for BTWFD, you can fill out the BTWFD 1 form. Send or deliver your completed form to your local Intreo centre or social welfare office.

National Childcare Scheme (NCS)

This scheme provides financial support to help parents in Ireland to meet the costs of childcare.

Who is eligible for the NCS?

In order to be eligible, you or your current partner must be a parent of the child or acting in loco parentis (this means acting as a parent to the child). Your child must be between six months and 15 years of age.

This scheme provides two types of subsidy: a universal subsidy for children under three and an income-assessed subsidy for children up to the age of 15.

How do I apply?

You must apply for the subsidy. If approved, the subsidy is paid directly to your childcare provider, who will subtract it from your childcare bill.

You can apply for the scheme on the NCS website.

Other social welfare supports

There are other social welfare supports that you may be eligible for including:

Need more information, advice or guidance?

We offer information, advice and guidance about the issues that matter to you. Our online Youth Information Chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm (excluding Bank Holidays).

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