Childcare Covenant support for Service families and the Bereaved

“Will I have the same childcare entitlements while posted overseas?” 

MOD personnel based in the UK have the same access to Childcare Choices as any other citizen. Since 2013, MOD has been working to ensure that any changes to childcare entitlements can be mirrored, so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, for entitled MOD personnel based outside the UK. Visit Childcare for Service children for details.

Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) was introduced by the Government in 2018, replacing the Childcare Voucher Scheme which closed to new entrants in October 2018. TFC is a savings account which working parents can use to pay for regulated childcare. For every £8 the parent pays in, the government will top up by £2 up to a total of £2,000 per year (£4,000 for disabled children). This leaflet compares the differences between TFC and Childcare Vouchers. In overseas locations, TFC can only be accessed when using MOD approved childcare providers or where a provider is accredited by the host nation (existing banking agreements with UK government have to be in place).

In England, parents with children aged 3 and 4 years old can, from the term following the child’s third birthday, access 15 hours of free childcare. Since September 2017, working parents in England, who meet the eligibility criteria, can access an additional 15 hours of free childcare. Entitlements differ across the UK, please visit DCYP.GOV.UK. Where reasonably practicable to do so, English entitlements are available to personnel overseas.

The 30 hours free childcare code issued by the Government is not valid for use outside of England. MOD has worked closely with DfE and HM Revenue & Customs to ensure Service parents returning to England from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and overseas can apply for a 30 hours childcare code before they arrive back in England. This will ensure that entitlements are not missed, especially when parents move mid-term and would not be able to apply within termly deadlines set by DfE.

Parents who are due to return to England, after a term deadline, but are aware of this move prior to a term deadline, can apply for a manual 30 hours code for their return. Parents must call the Childcare Service helpline on 0300 123 4097 and request a manual application.  This leaflet provides information on childcare provision in the Home Nations.

“Where can I find information on additional needs and disabilities?”

An Additional Needs and Disability Guide has been created for Service families by the Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (‘FANDF’) Committee and the SSAFA Additional Needs and Disability Advisor.

“What support is available for those adopting?”

One of the services SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, provides is a national registered adoption agency, supporting members of the Armed Forces who wish to create a family through adoption. SSAFA understand the needs of military adopters and this is the only service of its kind in the UK. SSAFA welcomes applications from all members of the serving community and those who have left the Armed Forces in the last 3 years. SSAFA have produced a useful leaflet called ‘Thinking about adoption’.

For more information, email the SSAFA adoption team on, call them on 020 7463 9326, or visit their website.

“How are young carers affected?”

The Children’s Society, who are undertaking an NHS England-funded national programmes of work looking at the needs of young carers in Armed Forces families have produced a report following a pilot programme delivered in Hampshire and Wiltshire. The project looked at how caring responsibilities may negatively affect this group of young people’s health, well-being and education, and to identify challenges they face in accessing support and good practice support.

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