Childcare and Early Years options

There are a number of choices for childcare and Early Years care, including nurseries, nannies or au pairs and childminders:

Nurseries – these can be on a base or in civilian communities and places can often be in short supply – you are advised to get your name on any waiting lists as early as possible.

Nannies – may be qualified but Au pairs are not necessarily and you should investigate each option carefully.  Both can live in, however if you are in SFA you will need to inform DIO that you have someone living in.

Childminders – should be registered and inspected, often providing care in their own homes.

Help finding childcare

Provision close to base

A HiVE will often have information on local providers – especially those on base.

Finding providers further afield

Across the UK, these are sites that can help you to find childcare:

Government childcare schemes

Do you know what help you are entitled to with childcare? Whether you have a toddler or teen you could get help with childcare costs from the Government.

Childcare Choices Website

There are a number of schemes to assist working families with the costs of childcare. Visit Childcare Choices for information on Government help with the cost of childcare for parents to help you consider which scheme best suits your circumstances.

Go to Childcare Choices website >

Childcare Choices logo

Funded Early Years Education

Government funded Early Years education is available across the UK for three and four year olds, and in some cases for two years olds.  The following sites will explain what is on offer and any eligibility criteria:

Wraparound childcare (WAC)

The WAC scheme will help eligible Service families with children aged 4 to 11 years old who are in school or being home schooled in the UK. Families can claim for up to 20 hours per week of funding for each child attending before and after school care during term time.

More information >

Tax-Free Childcare scheme

Tax-Free Childcare(TFC) replaced the Childcare Voucher Scheme in April 2018 (unless you opted to remain in the voucher scheme).

For eligible families, TFC offers to cover 20% of childcare costs (up to £2,000 per child, per year), for children up to the age of 12.

TFC eligibility

The scheme is open to almost two million families in the UK and is delivered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). As well as full-time employees working for an employer, for the first time, it will cover you if you are:

The scheme is available in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Coram Family and Childcare Childcare Survey 2020 provides an excellent glossary comparing childcare support schemes across the Uk (page 9).

TFC Overseas

Whilst overseas, TFC can only be used at nurseries or childminders that are MOD provided (regulated and inspected).

If you are eligible for TFC and you are assigned to an overseas location within the European Economic Area (and Switzerland) where there is no access to MOD provided schools and nurseries, you will be able to claim the TFC top-up using a manual process.

Armed Forces Families and Safeguarding (AFFS) worked with HMRC to allow for an application to be made with data then being transferred securely to HMRC for eligibility checking and processing of refunds.

2022DIN01-102 Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) Scheme for eligible working parents (Service personnel) has now been published, this includes the application form for the manual process.

Personnel without internal SharePoint access should contact [email protected] to request a copy of the application form.

Overseas childcare

The MOD have information on childcare for Service children in the UK and overseas. The information includes details of MOD provision overseas which mirrors, where possible in MOD provided settings, entitlement in England i.e. parents with children aged 3 or 4 can access 15 or 30 hours free childcare (depending on eligibility).

Where no MOD nursery provision is available, parents can claim a reimbursement for 15 or 30 hours by means of the Overseas Nursery Authority (previously called Overseas Nursery Allowance). Serving Personnel will need to access DIN reference number 2020DIN01-046 on defnet.

This leaflet about the entitlement to free childcare includes details of MOD funding for childcare overseas and differences across the devolved nations.

If you are moving home from overseas you will need to get a new code to access free childcare and there is also guidance available on this.  Parents returning from overseas will need to contact childcarechoices.gov.uk to obtain a new code.

HMRC helpline: 0300 123 4097

30hrs free childcare overseas and within UK