Covenant support for Service families: Childcare

In childcare, Covenant support for Service families includes the following:
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“I lose my childcare entitlements when the Armed Forces post me 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 reasonably practicable, for entitled MOD personnel based outside the UK. Visit Childcare for Service children for details.

Tax-Free Childcare

The Government introduced Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) in 2018. It replaced 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).

Free Childcare

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 ensures 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.

“My family member has additional needs and disabilities”

The Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (‘FANDF’) Committee and the SSAFA Additional Needs and Disability Advisor have created an Additional Needs and Disability Guide for Service families.

“As a member of the Armed Forces, it’s harder for me to adopt”

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, provides a national registered adoption agency. This supports members of the Armed Forces who wish to adopt. SSAFA understand the needs of military adopters, and this is the only service of its kind in the UK. SSAFA welcomes applications from the serving community and from those who’ve left the Armed Forces in the last 3 years. They have produced a leaflet called ‘Thinking about adoption’. For more information, email the SSAFA adoption team on Or, call them on 020 7463 9326, or visit Adopt with SSAFA.

“My child is a young carer at home while I’m posted overseas with the Armed Forces”

NHS England is funding the Children’s Society to undertake a national programme of work looking at the needs of young carers in Armed Forces families. They have produced a report following a pilot programme delivered in Hampshire and Wiltshire. The project looks at how caring responsibilities may negatively affect these young people’s health, well-being and education. It identifies challenges they face in accessing support and good practice support.

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