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Childcare help for service families

Service families can get help with childcare costs including 15 and 30-hours childcare, Tax-Free childcare and Universal Free-School-Meals.

There is also a pilot scheme providing 20 hours wraparound childcare for parents in the RAF stationed in Buckinghamshire. This helps pay for before and after school clubs.

See what childcare help you can get if you’re:

Some links (DINs) are only accessible by MOD personnel.

Aircraft at a military base

If you’re based in the UK

If you or your partner (if you have one) are based in the UK, you can access or apply for any childcare schemes you’re eligible for in the usual way.

These schemes include:

  • free meals for your child in Reception classes, Year 1 and Year 2
  • 15 hours of funded childcare for your 3 and 4-year-old
  • 30 hours of funded childcare if your partner also works or you're a single working parent
  • Tax-Free Childcare – where the government gives you £2 on top of every £8 you pay into an online account

Find out more and apply for these schemes

Free wraparound childcare pilot for RAF personnel

If you’re stationed at the RAF in Buckinghamshire, you could get up to 20 hours of funded wraparound childcare per week in term time for children 4 to 11 years old. This is a pilot scheme launched in September 2020.

This wraparound childcare can be used to pay for Ofsted (or equivalent) registered childcare providers including before and after school clubs and childminders.

You’ll be eligible for these funded hours if one parent is service personnel for the RAF and the other parent is working – the other working parent doesn’t have to be service personnel.

To apply, download the RAF wraparound childcare application form (PDF, 304KB, 5 pages) and email it to the Childcare Support Team (CST), [email protected].

Young girl looking at the sea

If you’re serving overseas

If you’re overseas and your child is with you, you could still get:

  • Universal Infant Free School Meals
  • 15 hours childcare
  • 30 hours childcare if eligible
  • Tax-Free Childcare

The way you apply for these schemes is different and sometimes, the money could be reimbursed to you instead of being paid directly to a setting – this will depend on your location and what facilities are available.

Universal Infant Free School Meals

Service children overseas in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 or their national equivalent are entitled to free school meals.

Some schools will provide the meals, but this may not be possible in some places due to local conditions or restrictions. If schools don’t provide the meals, speak to a liaison officer at your base for more information.

15 and 30 hours funded childcare

If you’re overseas and have access to a MOD nursery or school setting, you can access 15 or 30 hours childcare by applying to the setting.

For 30 hours childcare 2019DIN01-114 applies when registering for the additional entitlement. (DINs are only accessible by MOD personnel).

For more information speak to your MOD nursery settings for applications.

If you don’t have access to MOD nursery settings

If don’t have access to MOD nursery settings, you can apply for reimbursement of nursery fees by using the Overseas Nursery Authority (ONA).

2020DIN01-046 applies and applications should be sent to [email protected].

Tax-Free Childcare

Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) helps working parents with the cost of childcare and will, over time, replace the armed forces Childcare Voucher Scheme.

Like working parents in the UK, if you’re in the services and overseas, you can open an online account and use it to pay for childcare. For every £8 you pay into this account, the government will pay in an extra £2.

Whereas in the UK you’d use an Ofsted registered provider, overseas you must use a MOD approved provider instead.

There are some ‘rest of the world’ locations where Tax-Free Childcare is not currently available. DIN 2018DIN01-011 applies