A new childcare grant will remove a significant barrier to employment for parents on low incomes, Stormont's Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said.
Upfront childcare costs will be payable for the first month for people starting work who are claiming Universal Credit or are in receipt of other income-based benefits.
Parents who are eligible for the childcare element of Universal Credit and other income-based benefits can apply for a non-repayable grant of up to £1,500 from the department's Adviser Discretion Fund (ADF), which will be paid in advance to a registered childcare provider.
Any amount awarded for childcare costs will be included within the maximum £1,500 limit payable for ADF awards in a 12-month period.
Applications for the grant will open on October 25 after Ms Hargey secured Executive approval for amendments to the current regulations earlier this year.
She said: "My focus is to support people, workers and their families who face the greatest economic challenges.
"Childcare is critical in helping parents into work and moving families out of poverty.
"I have introduced this change as it is crucial that barriers to employment are removed.
"We need to provide people with the support and assistance they need to move into, and stay in, employment."