Your questions answered: Free Wraparound Childcare for Armed Forces Families
The very welcome announcement of free wraparound care (WAC) for Armed Forces families was made on 7 July 2020. The scheme kicks off with a pilot phase in September 2020 for Service personnel based at RAF Halton and RAF High Wycombe.
We have had a number of queries and comments since the announcement was made, so we have put together some Q & A with the help of the Childcare Support Team at Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP).
- Sept 2020 – July 2022 – Pilot phase – RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton
- Jan 2021 – July 2022 – Pilot Phase – Catterick Garrison and Plymouth
UK-wide full scheme roll-out to be announced, subject to Government financial approval.
WAC for the Armed Forces Questions and Answers
WAC Pilot Q&A
Do I have to live in Buckinghamshire to be eligible for the pilot?
Serving personnel based at High Wycombe and Halton are eligible for this pilot – regardless where their partner and children are living. A range of childcare providers are eligible – if they are OFSTED (or equivalent) registered.
We are a dispersed family, and the SP lives at RAF High Wycombe /Halton during the week – are we eligible for the pilot?
Yes – SP based at RAF High Wycombe or RAF Halton are eligible for the pilot even if the families live, and childcare is provided, elsewhere in the UK. Eligibility is based on the posting location of the Service parent.
We have an assignment order for High Wycombe but won’t arrive until after 1 September – can we apply?
Yes – those whose assignment orders have report for duty dates between 1 September 2020 and 31 March 2021 who are eligible may apply for the scheme.
When and how can we apply for the pilot at RAF High Wycombe or RAF Halton?
Application forms are available now – SP can access them via the DIN on MODNET (see detail below).
Is it only for married Service personnel (SP)?
No – this is open to all SP (regular and FTRS FC) who have dependent children aged 4-11. At the start of the pilot the Service person and their partner (if applicable) must be in paid employment, working at least 16 hours a week. Weekly income must be equivalent to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage.
Which children are eligible?
The scheme includes stepchildren, adopted children and any child brought into the family (Foster children are not eligible.)
Children must live at home and attend school (including home school) to be eligible.
Is there an income cap for eligibility? Yes – the upper limit is £100k. In dual parent households, if either parent earns more than 100K, they will not be eligible for the WAC. i.e. this is based on individual income of £100k not a combined household income of £100k.
What does this childcare cover?
Up to 20 hours a week of wraparound care (including breakfast and after school clubs) for 4-11 year olds, during term time.
Will MOD be providing new WAC?
The MOD will not be providing wraparound care but will be providing funding to eligible Service families with children aged 4-11 who make use of WAC.
Is there a limit on what will be paid?
Yes – funds are capped using the regional average and maximum hours rate. Costs of meals and activities are payable by the parent.
Is it only to support families when a SP is deployed?
No – it supports all SP and families that meet the eligibility criteria and are using, or wish to use, wraparound care.
Will this scheme cover the whole UK and not just England?
Yes – the scheme covers childcare across the UK.
How does this impact existing Government supported childcare schemes (eg Armed Forces Childcare Voucher Scheme (AFCVS) or Tax-Free Childcare (TFC)?
This pilot will not impact existing entitlement to either AFCVS or TFC. Please note, parents who are not eligible for TFC will not be able to take part in the pilot.
Do you have a question that is unanswered?
For full details of the pilot and to apply, Service personnel should access the DIN published on MODNET – 2020DIN01-071.
How to register for the WAC pilot?
The DIN includes full details including how to register for the pilot, how the funds will be paid, maximum allowable hourly claims and protections for changes in circumstances during the pilot period. Details and application forms are also available on the gov.uk website.