CHILDCARE provision in Cyprus is set to undergo positive changes – and thanks to your responses to an AFF survey, your views will help to shape how it is delivered on the island, writes Esther Thomas, AFF Regional Manager Cyprus.

With the news that HQ British Forces Cyprus (BFC) has been awarded LIBOR funding to build new centres and the government proposing 30 hours’ free childcare for working parents, it is a top issue in Cyprus.

AFF worked in partnership with SSAFA to conduct a survey in BFC asking you about the type of childcare used, financial issues and what type of improvements you would like to see.

There was huge interest in the survey, with more than 400 responses from families with children aged from birth up to 14 years.

The issues

Results suggest there is a high level of unregistered childcare being used as the current registered provision does not meet the needs of working parents, especially those that are single and dual-serving.

One Army wife said: “My husband and I are both serving. There is no full-time nursery facility during term-time and no guaranteed opening during holidays.”

Gaps in provision were identified in before- and after-school provision, as well as school holiday times for children of all ages. A total of 55 per cent of you said that you were not using as much childcare as you would like.

“It would be great to have more options as we do not have the support network that you have in the UK,” explained one family.

Many spouses reported being dissatisfied that the current registered provision did not support those trying to access employment or training.

One spouse said: “[I’m] not able to work due to childcare provision and my husband’s working hours being incompatible.”

Concerns were voiced about poor information, advice and support to parents and providers, which also impacted on the uptake of financial benefits.

Bright future

The interim results were presented to HQ BFC with a number of recommendations. Lt Col Andy Reid, Commander Joint Educational Training Services, who is heading up the LIBOR-funded initiative, said: “The report has been well received by HQ BFC.

“There is a real desire to engage with all those involved with the care of our children in order to bring about positive and sustainable change. We want to give greater support to working parents whilst ensuring that all our children have the best possible start in life.”

Jill Shaw, SSAFA’s Childcare Co-ordinator in BFC, added: “Working in partnership with AFF on childcare issues has been tremendous. The results should help promote improvements.”

Keep an eye on www.aff.org.uk for the full report or, if you have childcare issues overseas, contact Julie Lowe overseas@aff.org.uk or Lucy Scott ec@aff.org.uk

You can also get in touch with our Cyprus team at rmcyprus@aff.org.uk

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