For families with children we know that your priority is their happiness and welfare. Childcare is a large financial consideration for all and a question we often hear at AFF is: “What childcare funding options are there for me?”

Although childcare can be a problematic juggling act, there are avenues open to help ease the burden. A good first port of call is the government website childcarechoices.gov.uk

Input your location in the UK and the ages of your children and it will list what may be available to you. Remember that childcare is governed by each of the devolved nations independently and therefore there may be differences in what is offered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Financial boost

One of the most frequently used options for working families is tax-free childcare. This scheme enables you to open an online account and pay money in which you then use to pay for your childcare with a registered provider. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an additional £2. It’s for families with children aged 0 to 11 (or 17 if your child is disabled). This type of support helps you to stretch your funds that little bit further.

Working mum Natalie, whose son is pictured, says: “Being married unaccompanied in the military, tax-free childcare helps us offset the extra costs we experience by having to use additional childcare which we might not need if we were living together on the patch.”

Is tax-free childcare right for you? The government suggests that you use its childcare calculator tool to check if it is the best option for your family: gov.uk/childcare-calculator

Overseas options

For many of you there are extra concerns about the availability of childcare when posted overseas. However, there are options to access funded childcare when you are in a location with an MOD childcare facility. In these circumstances you’ll still be entitled to 15 hours of funded care for your three and four-year-olds and if you’re eligible, you could still access the full 30 hours too.

If you have a tax-free childcare account, you can use this to pay for childcare in overseas locations with MOD approved childcare providers. Full details are in the tax-free childcare DIN available on the Defence Intranet.

Where there is no overseas childcare setting, you can claim Overseas Nursery Authority for either 15 or 30 hours for your three to four-year-olds or older if the school starting age of the country is later.

Once you’ve applied and confirmed your eligibility your soldier can claim back the expenses via JPA.

If you have any enquires about childcare or problems accessing provision, contact educationsupport@aff.org.uk

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