You may find that you accrue hidden childcare costs whilst living overseas, however, there are mechanisms in place to help offset some of these. AFF’s Education & Childcare Specialist Anna Hutchinson, tells us more…

If you’re in an overseas location where an MOD nursery setting is available, you can access 15 or 30 hours’ funded childcare for three- and four-year-olds as you would if you were living in England.

Help at hand

In locations where there are no MOD settings or available places, you may be eligible to claim Overseas Nursery Authority (ONA) to cover the costs equivalent to 15 or 30 hours of funded childcare, as well as any registration and processing fees.

For example, a family with one parent serving and one at home posted to the USA with a two-year-old would be able to apply for ONA for the academic term following the child’s third birthday. The start date would be determined by the State’s academic calendar. The child would then be entitled to 38 weeks of ONA, equivalent to 15 hours a week for each academic year until they start school.

In some countries where the school starting age is later than it is in England, ONA can be claimed to ensure your child has access to the same hours as a Reception-aged child would have.

I spoke to Nicole Gordon from Plans and Governance at the MOD Armed Forces Families and Safeguarding (AFFS) to get answers to your questions about ONA…

How do I find out if we’re eligible?

Eligibility is based on entitlement in England so look at both childcarechoices.gov.uk and the ONA DIN via MODnet, which has recently been updated. Claims are audited on a regular basis to ensure that payments have been claimed correctly.

What do I need to do to apply?

Research childcare providers and find a suitable setting that’s in accordance with the DIN criteria. Forward your application to your overseas unit for sign-off prior to claiming any refunds. If you’re asking for something that’s over your entitlement you’ll need to produce supporting evidence.

Can ONA be used to pay for holiday childcare?

No, it can only be used for hours during term time as per the country you’re in.

Can I use a childminder in an area where I can claim ONA?

Yes, as long as they’re an approved childminder who is registered and inspected by the host nation.

Top tips for completing your application:

  • Ensure your child’s date of birth is entered correctly.
  • Provide all the evidence that the DIN states is needed. If this isn’t included you may be required to resubmit your form.
  • Check that everything is signed where necessary.

Find out more

If you haven’t found the answer in the DIN or at gov.uk, contact educationsupport@aff.org.uk


Related articles: It pays to think about your medical needs before you go overseas and Before you go: Overseas checklist for army families

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