Childcare options


Some of the topics that we are currently monitoring include:
– early years support funding from DfE.
– early years 30 hours availability/accessibility worldwide
– devolved issues including differences in the offer
– availability of local childcare settings
– the new MOD childcare policy

By focusing on these issues we can work to change things for the better. Please contact to share your experiences of any of the above.


01   MOD Wraparound Childcare (WAC) Scheme

Please see our MOD Wraparound Childcare (WAC) Scheme page for information and FAQs.

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02   Early years childcare

Service families may be entitled to claim free early years childcare across the UK and overseas but what is available does vary depending on where you are currently living. We advise families living in the UK to look at the government’s Childcare Choices webpage to explore what may be available in your area. 

To read more about the MOD childcare offer for the UK and overseas offer, see

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Three- and four-year-olds

  • All families can claim 15 hours’ free childcare for 38 weeks of the year. Some providers will allow you to stretch the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours a week.
  • If you and your partner (if applicable) are in paid employment, you may be eligible for an additional 15 hours of funded childcare, taking the hours up to 30 in total.


  • From April 2024, 2-year-olds from eligible working families can receive up to 15 hours of early years funding for up to 38 weeks of the year.
  • If you’re in receipt of certain benefits or your child has special educational needs or a disability, you may be able to claim 15 hours for two-year-olds for 38 weeks.

For more info, see the Childcare Choices webpage

1,140 hours a year (30 hours a week if taken in term time) is available for three and four year old children.

For more info, see

Depending on family circumstances there is up to 30 hours of free childcare available.

For more info, see

Contact the NI Children’s Education Support Officer for more information about the Early Years offer on

For support in the overseas space please visit our Overseas Education & Childcare page

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03   Tax Free Childcare

Tax Free Childcare (TFC) is a government scheme to help working parents with the cost of their childcare for children aged 0-11 years (16 if their child is registered disabled). Parents can open an online savings account and then use this to pay for childcare at a registered provider. The government will top up savings paid into the account, so for every £8 added by parents the government will add an additional £2.

Service families can also use their TFC to pay for their childcare in overseas locations with MOD approved childcare providers. For further information about this please read the TFC DIN available on the Defence Intranet.

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04   Universal Credit childcare costs

We advise all Service personnel and their families to check the government’s Childcare Choices webpage to check for any childcare support they might be entitled to.

Some people may be able to claim Universal Credit to pay some of their childcare costs, depending on their income. For more information, eligibility and how to claim, see

Please note that you cannot get Tax-Free Childcare if you are on Universal Credit.

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05   MOD Sodexo childcare vouchers - please note this is now closed to new entrants

MOD Sodexo childcare vouchers are a salary sacrifice tax-saving scheme specifically for registered childcare. The scheme closed for new applicants from 31 August 2018.

The vouchers can be used to pay for childcare either for children who have not yet started school, or for before and after school care and holiday clubs, saving you over £900.

If your soldier wishes to claim Sodexo Armed Forces childcare vouchers, you will need to check that your childcare provider is registered.  It is possible for both partners to claim their childcare vouchers in dual serving families.

Army families already registered on the scheme are able to use the vouchers for any Ofsted regulated childcare or equivalent, including regulated MOD Schools childcare overseas. The vouchers can also be used for the boarding element of school fees providing this is clearly shown on bills and invoices.

For more information, visit or call MOD Freephone: 0800 066 5075

If you’re encountering problems with using childcare vouchers, let us know at

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06   Home-Start

Home-Start offers practical and emotional support to parents with children aged five or under, including Armed Forces families, through a team of volunteers. Help is confidential and free.

Home-Start has a long history of supporting Forces families in the UK, Germany and Cyprus. Local Home-Starts support parents through home visiting, community group work, school readiness projects and events.

There are more than 200 independent local Home-Starts in the UK, providing support to parents and more than 56,000 young children.

To find out if there is a Home-Start in your area, phone 0116 464 5450 or visit the Home-Start Armed Forces families webpage.

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07   Childcare options

A choice of childcare options should be available for all Army families, but because of Service life, some are easier to access than others.

Day nurseries: make sure your name is down on the waiting list as soon as possible, even before you have a confirmed posting order.

Nannies and Au Pairs: Nannies may be qualified, but au pairs are usually not. There are restrictions for au pairs on their working hours, and there is a specified age below which you should not leave your little one with them in sole care on a regular basis.

There have been some changes regarding employment of au pairs from the EU.

Both can live in, although you can also have a daily nanny; you will need to inform housing to let them know you have someone living in your quarter.

In certain cases, you may be entitled to have an extra bedroom.

Childminders: Live locally, should be registered and will be inspected by OFSTED.

They may offer early years education, and they may have other staff working for them.

The Local Authority (LA) will have a specific page for childcare and vacancies. You can also follow these links, depending on where you live:

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