Being posted overseas with young children can be a great adventure, but it can also have its drawbacks. Childcare provision and facilities for under-fives varies from location-to-location, so the key thing is to find out as much information as you can before you go. Army&You checked in with AFF’s staff around the world for a snapshot of what some regions offer…
HQ British Forces Cyprus made a bid for Libor money (raised from government fines on the UK banking industry) for early years settings for children of Forces families in Cyprus.
With the help of AFF and SSAFA, which ran a joint childcare survey to identify what Service families wanted, funding was granted for four facilities in Ayios Nikolaos, Dhekalia, Akrotiri and Episkopi.
Jess Bainton, whose daughter Mila attends the current Episkopi setting, said: “The staff and facilities are good, but the new building will offer a big improvement. I’ve been lucky to have a peek at the new outdoor equipment – it looks fantastic and will offer greater stimulation and learning opportunities.”
Plans for the settings include wraparound childcare, non term-time provision and wider use of the facilities. Louise Williams, senior early years manager for MOD Schools, added: “The new settings are much more spacious, which gives the potential for more places to be offered.
“This will depend on the demand in each location and also the ability to recruit staff with the right qualifications.”
At the time of going to press, three of the four facilities were up-and-running, with Episkopi set to open soon. Posted to Cyprus? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU are posted to Canada with young children, be assured that there are plenty of activities to keep under-fives happy. From volunteer-run groups to more structured environments, the village of Ralston is well equipped for pre-school children to have fun, socialise and learn.
Little Gophers pre-school runs four days a week for children aged two-and-three-quarters up until kindergarten. It uses the Early Years Foundation Stage system, follows the Ofsted framework – and you can use childcare vouchers and your 15 free hours too.
When asked what he enjoys about Little Gophers, three-year-old Tyler Garvey said: “Playing, laughing and having fun.”
Be mindful that there is a waiting list, so if you’re heading to BATUS and need childcare, put your name down as soon as you can.
Pop in and Play is a more informal group, while Kiddi Kare offers drop-in childcare for six months to three-year-olds. Lollipop Tots provides messy and sensory play for children from birth-to-five, and a chance for parents to meet and chat.
“My one-year-old loves splashing about in water and catching bubbles, while my three-year-old loves the craft activities – glue and paint galore,” said Cathy Perowne. “I enjoy a coffee and a catch-up with friends. It’s a great group that enhances the village community spirit.”
Contact AFF’s Canada Co-ordinatorJen Bennett (email@example.com) or the military family resource centre on (001) 403 544 5567.
FOR Service families stationed in British Forces Brunei, Treetops nursery provides a great setting for children aged three and under.
The unit move between 1 Royal Gurkha Regiment and 2 Royal Gurkha Regiment last summer led to a significant change of both children and staff. Treetops manager Kate Campbell said: “Before their arrival, we contacted the nursery back in Folkestone to find out as much information about the incoming children and their individual needs.
“We have been fortunate to recruit new talent for the nursery from those who were employed in nurseries in Folkestone, who already knew the children. This has helped enormously in settling the children in.”
The nursery has helped to ensure strong relationships are built right from the beginning, even through times of change.
PROVISION for under-fives in Kenya had previously been limited, but significant changes have been made to improve things for the growing number of families posted to BATUK.
Earlier this year, AWS community development worker Maggie Newman delivered an adult training package on themes such as safeguarding, session planning and risk assessments, giving people in the community the tools to run their own groups for youngsters.
AFF’s Kenya Co-ordinator Sarah Brown explained: “One successful group – Mums & Tots – is led by Army spouse Zoe Major. There are activities like pizza making and painting, while mums and dads have time to chat. A new play park has also been developed to create a place for newcomers to meet each other, and further improvements are planned including a visit and regular Skype sessions with a health visitor for advice and development monitoring.”
If you have any issues or questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
WITH all Army families set to return to the UK in the next few years, childcare provision in Germany is both a challenge and an opportunity.
There are concerns over nursery staff moving out of BFG, particularly key persons who play a vital role in supporting children. MOD schools are well-versed in the impact of mobility, however, and in many ways these challenges are not new ones. The schools in BFG are committed to ensuring that staffing levels are maintained.
“A transition team has been created which has representatives from all settings that provide education and childcare in the 0-5 age bracket,” said AFF’s Regional Manager Germany, Katy Brookfield. “The team aims to ensure that your child receives the best possible care right up until the gates are closed.”
All Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) leaders in BFG agree that there are bound to be concerns and invite you to come and talk to them about any problems you may have.
Amy Wright, EYFS leader at Attenborough School in Sennelager, told us: “We are going to do our utmost to ensure we continue to offer excellence every day.”
If you have any questions about childcare in Germany, contact AFF’s BFG team or go to bfgnet.de
MOVING to an isolated posting overseas can be both a great opportunity and a big challenge for Army families with children under five.
It’s a chance for youngsters to experience a different culture, but it also takes time to pick up a new language and make friends, so the settling in process may take longer.
AFF’s European Joint Support Unit Co-ordinator, Vic Porter, said support will depend on the posting location, adding: “It’s likely that there won’t be an MOD school or nursery, so you’ll have to link into the host nation’s provision, which will probably have a different system.
“In Italy and Belgium for example, local children don’t start compulsory education until they’re six.”
The admission process can be daunting, but advice is at hand through your local community and the Children’s Education Advisory Service.
You can also apply for the Overseas Nursery Allowance to cover the 15 hours you would get for free in England and Wales.
“There are options for childcare, it’s just harder than I was anticipating,” said one Belgium-based Army spouse. “Having confidence in the local language helps and it widens your options.”