Overseas childcare for RAF children considerations

In the UK we are fortunate when it comes to childcare, there are lots of different options which provide flexibility and the English Government and Devolved Administrations offer support with the costs. The same cannot be said in many overseas locations, so before you apply for overseas service it is worthwhile researching the in-country provision to check it will meet your needs and circumstances.

In this section we aim to set realistic expectations and highlight some important considerations:

Overseas childcare provision

MOD childcare overseas provided by Defence Children Services offers, where practicable, the standards that you would expect at home. However, provision is very limited and only available in certain locations. When it is available the hours may be different to what you are used to.

In locations where childcare is not offered by the MOD you will need to look to local providers. Standards and availability will vary greatly from location to location. Therefore, you need to research your options and the potential providers in advance of accepting a posting.

The quality of the childcare provision and the activities available can vary from country to country and an Education MOD Assessment of Supportability Overseas (MASO) needs to be completed prior to moving. More information is available from the Overseas Education and Supportability Team (OEST) who provide information and advice regarding education in overseas locations. You can contact the OEST by emailing [email protected].

Once you have identified some local providers we recommend your research the following:

Childcare proximity

Where you are located may limit your childcare options. It is important you check the provision in the area you will live. In some locations accommodation offered may be in a remote location, so transport to and from the childcare provision needs to be considered.

Availability of childcare

In some locations childcare is in short supply, so it is important you find out if there are spaces and how to register your interest. Ask:

  • Do you have spaces available?
  • Can places be held with a retainer fee?
  • Do you operate a waiting list?
  • Do you prioritise spaces? If so, how are they prioritised?
  • Do you offer full day, half day and sessional sessions?

Childcare costs

Budget is often a key factor when weighing up childcare options so it is important to understand how you will be charged. Ask:

  • What are the standard fees?
  • Are there any additional charges?
  • Do you offer a sibling discount?
  • Do you offer a Service discount?

Hours of operation

In some countries childcare provision may not cover a full working day and school holidays may not be covered. If you have children in school you will need to find out if there are local wraparound options as this is not standard practice everywhere. Ask:

  • What time do you start and finish?
  • Do you operate in school holidays?

Entry requirements

In some countries there will be entry requirements which must be met, such as vaccinations. It is important to find out the criteria so you can make appropriate arrangements before you leave the UK.

Government childcare schemes

15 and 30 hours ‘free’ childcare

In MOD nursery settings overseas parents with children aged 3 and 4 years old can access 15 or 30 hours free childcare (depending on eligibility). More information can be found on GOV.UK.

Overseas Nursery Authority

Formerly known as Overseas Nursery Allowance, the Overseas Nursery Authority provides parents of 3 and 4 years olds with the ability to apply for reimbursement of nursery fees. You can apply for reimbursement if you are based overseas in a location where an MOD settings is not available. Go to GOV.UK for more information.

Wraparound Childcare scheme

Service personnel serving overseas are currently not eligible to join the Wraparound Childcare scheme (WAC) unless they are serving unaccompanied involuntarily with the family remaining in the UK, in which case they may be eligible. From autumn 2023, personnel Serving overseas unaccompanied voluntarily with family remaining in the UK will be eligible to claim (so long as other criteria are met). Visit Discover My Benefits for more information on WAC.

The overseas picture is complex, where one solution will not fit all but the WAC Implementation & Policy Team are looking at options that could be available. This will be reviewed during the first operational year of the WAC Full UK Rollout.

How we can help

If you are overseas and facing a childcare issue, let us know.