Wanted: families to speak out on childcare

What challenges are you facing with childcare as an army family? Have you had trouble finding a place after a move? What extra support would you like?

Give us your unique perspective 

In our latest survey, which runs from 3 to 21 February, we’re encouraging you to have a say about the unique childcare issues you face as an army family. This is a great opportunity to have your say via your feedback to AFF. 

We would like to hear about your childcare issues. What could make things better? Is the childcare in your area just too expensive or are the opening hours too limited?

Your feedback is vital 

The MOD is currently considering how service families can be better supported with their childcare – whether for under-fives, before and after school care for primary school aged children or school holiday care for older children. We’d love to hear your views to strengthen the case for change. 

Share your views

The survey has now closed. If you have anything you would like to raise please email ec@aff.org.uk.

Find out more on our website about the support that is available.



    I think this is brilliant this issue is being brought up and so glad to hear we aren’t the only ones! I had to make the difficult decision to take a demotion and move to the south coast when my Husband was to be based there for the remainder of his career. There are far fewer positions in my career field there and I have had to do a 3 hour/day commute and juggle childcare around this. All whilst sole parenting for months on end and like most military families no family close by to help. I earn a decent wage however 60% of this goes on childcare and commuting costs. My employer is as understanding as possible but is still a business and all of the sick child days, leaving early/arriving late with nursery pick ups and drop offs fall on me the majority of the time. Being a working military wife/mum that does not live on a military base as we want to own our own house is isolating and you do not seem to receive the same support. My 20 month old son currently has to do a 10.5 hour day at nursery at the cost of £67 a day in order for me to work/commute//sole parent and the last 6 month deployment nearly broke me!! We are actually trying to delay/time trying to have a second child so that I can cope. Extra help in our difficult circumstances would be most welcome in my opinion.

    I completely agree with Katie above, I am so surprised that there is not more support concerning childcare.

    I work full time and earn a respectable wage but this only just covers the cost of childcare. I feel that due to my partner being away a lot, my career has been put on hold as progression for me is almost non-existent whilst I remain the main (and often sole) carer for our child. I do think that the understanding with employers around service families just isn’t there. They don’t get it and as much as you try and educate them as an individual, more needs to be done here.

    I also believe, however, that the lack of support with childcare is not just an issue within the armed forces, but a problem on a much larger scale.

    I returned to work part time in October 2019 and immediately found childcare to be very expensive in our area. I would say 2/3 at least if my wage goes on childcare and the rest is Carpark, fuel and a small food shop. My partner pays all of our bills and also helps with the food shopping all whilst trying to save for us to buy a house so that we have our own family home. I have no local friends or family for help and I also spend my days off at home due to not being able to afford to go anywhere. This has a massive impact on my daughter as she doesn’t get to see many people day to day so is quiet scared and reserved when we do see people. She can get quite upset even when we occasionally see family as she doesn’t see anyone regularly enough to trust them. My partner is away for 10 months and I feel very alone and unsupported. I can’t even afford the petrol and the £3 entry to the local soft play as I just can’t spare the money. While my partner is away I’m eating less to try to save money as well, I have given up ANY type of luxury I once had to make sure I can provide for our daughter. I also have £6000 in debt on my credit card from my maternity leave. It really is very difficult, but the nursery our daughter attends is so good for her, I love her going, she is kept entertained all day and I know they adore her, it would be devastating for her not to be able to go and so I carry on sacrificing for her.

    At the moment I am 8.5 months pregnant and I have experienced this pregnancy all on my own while having two young ones aged 10 & 8 while managing a full time job. To say it’s been difficult would be an understatement. Sometimes I wake up crying because the challenge to basically being a single parent is hard. My husband works away from monday to Friday and only comes home for the weekend. When he asked to get transferred somewhere close to where we live he was shut down by his unit. At the moment he is away on a 6 week exercise. So basically I run the risk of having this baby all on my own. I think more thought needs to go into the soldiers who are parents and whether being closer to home would not only help with family matters but ensure stability in his home.

    I am a military wife and the hardest thing for me since we have had our children is the fact there’s no childcare help. Iv lost jobs, turned jobs down and also became very depressed due to not being able to work. My family are hundreds of miles away. We’ve moved three times in the last five years so Iv not made many friends either. It does make me feel very lonely with mostly just the babies a for company. I cannot learn to drive to go much further than the local play parks, day in day out and cannot afford to take them out either often due to the fact there’s just the one wage and bills to pay . Even finding a evening and weekend job is hard to find and then even when you do have one, your husband tells you he’s going away for months on end so you have no choice but to leave. Most child minders do not work after 6pm and it would cost much more in childcare for our three children than I could earn while he is deployed.
    I am surprised there isn’t much help out there given our other half’s are sent away so much. This is the one thing that causes arguments in our home.
    My husband has time again asked me if I want him to leave the army and get another job. But I know he loves it and couldn’t do that to him so until the babies reach school age I feel like my life and happiness is on hold.

    Huge thanks for sharing your story and how you feel Katie. This is just the sort of evidence we need to understand the unique challenges that army families face.
    Please do take a look at https://www.home-start.org.uk/forces-families – there may be some help in your area. SSAFA has community volunteers that offer support to military families so worth getting in touch with them too – https://www.ssafa.org.uk/get-help/find-local-branch

    Thank you again.

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