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Childcare

It is with great pleasure that we, at the Naval Families Federation, are launching our 2021 Childcare report. We hope that you will agree with us, that it has been worth the wait and that it will help to shape the future of childcare for the Royal Navy.

 

We are so grateful to everyone who responded to our childcare survey last year. Our report aims to ensure that your voices, experiences and concerns that you have about childcare in the Royal Navy have been accurately represented. In addition to families’ feedback we have included lots of relevant research.

 

The focus of this report is on those aspects of childcare which place an extra burden on households as a direct result of Royal Navy Service life.

 

It is our aspiration that the short and long term recommendations made in this report will inform future MOD policy (including the wraparound childcare pilot and policy), as well as Royal Navy and wider Royal Navy charitable support.

 

To read the full report, please download the interactive PDF here.

 

Posted on: 27th January, 2021

 

On the 1st September ‘Strengthening Families – By Your Side’, a new offer of support for all Royal Navy families, will officially launch.

 

Strengthening Families – By Your Side has been developed by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and Naval Families Federation (NFF), in partnership with the Royal Navy, Kings Active Foundation, Home-Start UK and Relate. This project is supported by funding over the next three years from the Armed Forces Covenant. In addition to this, the RNRMC have also brought together funded projects from the Naval Children’s Charity, Aggie Weston’s and KIDS to provide a comprehensive support package to service families whenever and wherever they need it.

 

This groundbreaking partnership will work collaboratively to address some of the key issues underlined in the RNRMC’s ‘Understanding of Need’ report, primarily looking at the gap between the support available for dispersed families nationwide compared to support available for those living in or near base ports.

 

 

Professor Janet Walker, who has been instrumental in the project’s development, said:

“Increasingly, as Royal Navy families choose to live away from their home base, many are experiencing loneliness and social isolation, the absence of a military peer group who understand and share the same pressures, relationship difficulties caused by time spent apart during deployments and weekending, and the unpredictability of home-comings and family time.”

“‘Strengthening Families – By Your Side’ can break down the barriers to seeking support and will assist members of Navy families, wherever you live and whoever you are, to access confidential and personalised practical and emotional help.”

 

The importance of support for dispersed families was echoed by Anna Wright, CEO of NFF:

“From my perspective the most exciting aspect of this project is that it supports our dispersed community.  With 39% living away from bases, having located in every county in the UK, it is essential that RNRM families can access appropriate support on the ground. And being able to self-refer to this support as a naval family is vital. We are delighted to be working with a group of charities that are collaborative, flexible and committed to supporting the naval lifestyle.

 

Mandy Lindley, Director of Relationships and Funding at the RNRMC added:

“By working together, we can deliver the improvement in quality of life that is needed by our service families. Strengthening Families – By Your Side is about early intervention and prevention, providing a range of services leading to improved family cohesion, conflict resolution, health and well-being, and increased levels of happiness.”

 

Further information

For more information about the full range of support available and how to access it please visit: rnrmc.org.uk/how-we-help/families-and-relationships

 

Posted on: 1st September, 2020

The Naval Families Federation has been at the forefront of raising awareness of the childcare challenges for serving families since it carried out its first childcare survey in 2016, and its follow-up survey earlier this year (which will be published shortly). We are very grateful to everyone who responded so generously with their time and thoughts. You have allowed us to represent your experiences with authority and in detail to the Government, the Royal Navy and other stakeholders.

 

We are delighted that the announcement has been made of a new offer of free ‘wraparound’ childcare, to be piloted from September.

 

RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire will be the first bases to offer the scheme, with service personnel based in Catterick and Plymouth able to access the pilot scheme from January 2021. We will update you with further details of the Plymouth pilot as soon as these become available.

 

While we very warmly welcome this news, we are aware that wraparound care is only one aspect of this complex issue. We will continue to work hard to represent your experiences and challenges in all areas of childcare.

 

  • Read more about the announcement here.
  • Find out more about childcare for Service children here.
  • Click here to listen to an interview with our CEO’s reaction to the announcement from an episode of Sitrep via BFBS Radio (23rd July, 12:12 onwards).
Updates
November 2020

Royal Navy Wraparound Childcare (WAC) pilot for eligible Service Personnel assigned to the Plymouth area

 

The Wraparound Childcare (WAC) pilot provides funding to eligible parent(s) with children between the ages of 4 to 11 years old with up to 20 hours per week of free before and after school childcare during term time.

 

Parent(s) can choose their own OFSTED, (or equivalent), registered childcare provider. The first pilot started in the autumn term 2020 and included Service personnel assigned to RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton. In January 2021, the pilot will be extended to include Service personnel assigned to the Plymouth area.

 

The second pilot is for Service Personnel (Tri-Service, Regular and Full Time Reserve Service (Full Commitment)) who are assigned to the Plymouth area, and have child /children aged 4 to 11 years old who are in school and/or being home schooled at the start of the spring term. Those whose Assignment Orders have a report for duty date between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021 may also apply.

 

At the start of the pilot, the Service person and their partner, or a sole parent in a lone parent family, must be:

  • In paid employment, or re-starting work within the next 31 days.
  • Working at least 16 hours each per week.
  • Earning a weekly income equivalent to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage.
  • Financially responsible for a child who usually lives with them, unless separated due to Service commitments or are on unaccompanied assignments.
  • Each earning less than £100K per year.

 

You can only claim for WAC if you are using registered, regulated and inspected providers who are eligible to use Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) or Childcare Vouchers.

 

Further guidance will be published shortly.

Posted on: 7th July, 2020
Updated on: 18th November, 2020

 

EDIT

Sincere thanks to everyone who generously gave their time to respond to our childcare survey. The survey is now closed. We will keep you updated via our website and social media channels once the final report becomes available. We will take your thoughts and concerns to the government and the Chain of Command to inform change.

 

If you missed the survey deadline, please email us at contactus@nff.org.uk as we would still like to document your ‘lived experience’ about this and any other issues that concern you.

 

 

You may recall that the NFF conducted a Childcare survey back in 2016.  Thank you for your excellent responses which we collated and used to advocate strongly for change to remove disadvantage in this area. The whole report can be downloaded here. 

 

As a result of our advocacy, the MOD has now agreed to consider how Service families can be better supported with childcare.  We now have an opportunity to directly inform any potential changes and decisions and wish the specific needs of Royal Navy and Royal Marines families to be represented.

 

By completing this survey, you will be informing us and helping us to build a clearer picture of the childcare issues that affect you.

 

This survey should take about 10 minutes to complete: surveymonkey.co.uk/r/nff-childcare

 

Posted on: 13th February, 2020
Updated on: 20th April, 2020

A new Childcare Choices website has now been launched, so that millions of parents can pre-register for the government’s new childcare offers.

 

We know that childcare is important to many Naval families (click here to see our Childcare survey results) so we’re pleased to see that Childcare Choices has brought together all the government childcare offers for the first time, to help parents find the right childcare support to suit them.

 

As part of Childcare Choices, the government is introducing two new offers in 2017 – HMRC’s Tax-Free Childcare and the Department for Education’s 30 hours free childcare.

 

The introduction of Tax-Free Childcare will begin on 28 April, for parents of the youngest children. It will be gradually rolled out over 2017 – cutting childcare costs by up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children, for working families across the UK.

 

The new 30 hours free childcare offer will be available in England for working parents of three and four year olds from September 2017. Parents will be able to apply in advance of September, and at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare.

 

The Childcare Choices website, launched today, includes a Childcare Calculator for parents to compare the government’s childcare offers and check what works best for their families.

 

Through the site parents can also pre-register for email alerts that will notify them when they can apply.

 

David Gauke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“The new Childcare Choices website provides busy families with options that suit their needs, so they can clearly see which childcare offer works best for them. For the first time, we have brought all the childcare options together to make the process easier and simpler for families and childcare providers.”

 

Education Secretary, Justine Greening, said:

“Affordable childcare and early years education are a vital part of how we can get our children on the right path, whilst also helping parents to be back at work, if that is what they want. Many parents are struggling to balance the cost of childcare against the benefits of being in work and this government wants to help.

 

“From today, parents can use the Childcare Choices website to find out what support is available for their family. It’s a quick and easy way for parents to choose the offer that’s best for them and their children.”

 

Posted on: 25th March, 2017

 

Finding suitable childcare for your children can be tricky, but there are lots of ways to help you find different types of childcare in your area.  If you are looking to put your child into childcare for the first time or are due to move and need to change childcare setting, we advise that you identify suitable childcare options as soon as possible and establish if there are spaces or whether there is a waiting list. We recommend putting your child’s name down for a place or onto a waiting list as soon as your child is born or as soon as you have had a move confirmed.

If you are moving be sure to give your current nursery/childcare setting plenty of notice that you are leaving so that you do not incur any additional costs.  If you claim the government funded free hours for 3-4 year olds you will also have to change the details of the setting that you are claiming from.

 

Finding childcare

Each local authority is responsible to ensuring that there is enough suitable childcare provision in their area.  Most local authorities have a childcare directory on their council websites which will list all of the OFSTED registered local nurseries, preschools, childminders and playgroups.

 

Local childcare services and directories can be found via the search facility on the GOV.UK site:

 

There are a number of other websites offering support to find childcare options in your area:

  • childcare.co.uk is the UK’s largest online, government-endorsed childcare platform.
  • Childminders in England and Wales can be located from the Government website here.
  • Before and after school and holiday clubs in England and Wales can be found here.
  • In Scotland, information on a variety of childcare settings can be found from the Scottish Family Information Service and you can find a place here.
  • The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) website offers helpful advice about choosing childcare, as well as information for people considering childminding as a career here.

Inspection reports for approved childcare providers can be found via the following websites:

Approved childcare can also include care provided by a maintained or independent school that is registered with the relevant inspection body. If your child is over 5, the childcare must be outside school hours and on the school premises.

 

Help with childcare costs

You may be eligible to access free childcare. Find out more about the schemes from this poster.

The government have a website that provides information on of the different childcare support options that are available to you for children aged 0-16. The Childcare Choices website includes information and links on where to apply for tax-free childcare offers. You must use ‘approved childcare’ settings to qualify for help. Click here for a step-by-step guidance.

 

For more information on what level of childcare support you may be eligible for, there is childcare calculator available here.

 

MOD Childcare vouchers are available to Service personnel. The scheme is now closed to new entrants. For those that are already registered it enables you to convert part of your salary into vouchers before your usual tax and NI contributions are taken. This means that you only have to pay the tax and NI on what’s left, saving you up to £933 per year. Find out more here. Childcare vouchers may affect the amount of tax credits you get. Find out more about whether you would be better off taking childcare vouchers, and or applying for Tax-Free Childcare by checking here.

 

Free ‘wraparound’ childcare pilots are rolled out from September 2020 following recent announcement. RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire will be the first bases to offer the scheme, with service personnel based in Catterick and Plymouth able to access the pilot scheme from January 2021. At least 1 parent has to be an Armed Forces Regular and both parents have to be in paid employment.

 

England – 15 and 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds

All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get free early education or childcare.

Some 2-year-olds are also eligible for 15 hours free childcare, for example if you get certain benefits.

The free early education and childcare:

  • must be with an approved childcare provider
  • stops when your child starts in reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later)

Find out more and apply here.

 

 Scotland – up to around 16 hours a week in term time if your child is 3 or 4 years old

Some 2-year-olds are also eligible for free childcare, for example if you get certain benefits.

Find out more and get a link to your council to claim your funded place here.

A parents’ guide to early learning and childcare in Scotland was produced by Audit Scotland to help to provide clearer information to families.  You can find it here.

 

 Wales – a minimum of 10 hours of free, part-time Foundation Phase education in a school, or funded nursery, in the term following their third birthday

The Welsh government plans to provide 30 hours a week of free early education and childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds in Wales, for 48 weeks of the year. The current free early education provided by Foundation Phase will form part of this offer. The pilot scheme started in September 2017.  You can find out more here.

 

 Northern Ireland – Tax-Free Childcare or childcare vouchers

Find out more here.

 

Childcare provided by relatives
If you live in England or Scotland –

You can only get help paying for childcare by a relative (for example a grandparent) if:

  • they’re a registered childminder and care for your child outside your home
  • you’re paying them using Universal Credit, tax credits or childcare vouchers

You can’t get help for childcare provided by your partner or paid for by the free early education and childcare scheme.

 

If you live in Northern Ireland –

You can only get help paying for childcare provided by a relative if all of the following apply:

  • they’re in a childcare approval scheme in Northern Ireland
  • they care for your child outside your home
  • they care for at least one other child that isn’t related to you

 

If you live in Wales –

You can’t get help paying for childcare provided by a relative.

 

Childcare support in emergency or crisis

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children’s Fund (RNRMCF) can offer financial support towards childcare costs in times of emergency or family crisis.  If you need help with extra childcare support, if for instance one child is in hospital which means you need help with your other children outside of your usual childcare or if your family is experiencing marital difficulties or breakdown, the RNRMCF can help.  They are on hand to help you to ensure that your children feel more settled, particularly if moving to a new home or if you are unable to look after them in an emergency situation.  They are generally able to respond to an emergency situation within a couple of hours.

Phone: Monday – Friday 0800-1600,  02392 639534

Email: caseworkers@rnrmchildrensfund.org.uk

 

Private fostering (eg during deployment)

Are you are deploying or working away for more than 28 days, and organising childcare with someone who is not your child’s parent? Please check the regulations regarding private fostering.  If an individual is looking after someone else’s child for more than 28 days they must notify their local council – failure to do so is a criminal offence.  You can find out more about Private Fostering here.

 

The law on leaving your child on their own

Government guidance is here. The NSPCC has produced a guide to help you to decide when it is safe for your child to be home on their own, and what you can do if they are too young. Find out more here.

 

Extended Free Childcare Overseas

In overseas locations, MOD provides services (or access to services) that, so far conform in type, scope and standard to that required by legislation in England (but paying due regard to the equivalent legislation in the Devolved Administrations).

The 2006 Childcare Act introduced 15 hours of childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year for 3 and 4 year olds free of charge. In overseas locations the MOD currently delivers this entitlement through places at MOD-provided settings or through access to the MOD Overseas Nursery Allowance.

From 01 September 2017, there has been an extension of the entitlement and an offer of an additional 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year of free childcare for children that are eligible. The additional 15 hours are available to families where either parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) a minimum of 16 hours each per week. Parents each earning £100,000 or more do not qualify for the additional entitlement.

 

Entitlement

The additional entitlement was introduced on 1 September 2017 across England and is mirrored in MOD locations overseas, using the same eligibility criteria defined under the 2016 Childcare Act above. In overseas locations where the MOD-provided settings have sufficient capacity, the additional entitlement will be provided through those settings, free of charge. Free childcare cannot be claimed when using childminders or nannies. In overseas locations where there are no MOD-provided settings, or where MOD-provided settings lack sufficient capacity, the additional entitlement will be provided through the MOD Overseas Nursery Allowance. The entitlement applies to eligible Service Personnel and entitled Civilians only. The latter means UK Based Civil Servants posted overseas or Specially Recruited for Overseas Service.  Fee-paying contractors cannot apply.

 

Eligibility criteria for the additional 15 hours

The MOD currently delivers, 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, free early education to all Regular Service Personnel, Reserve Personnel undertaking Full Time Reserve Service (Full Commitment) (FTRS FC) and entitled Civilians who are assigned overseas where they are accompanied by their eligible children, through places at MOD-provided settings or through access to the MOD Overseas Nursery Allowance. In order to be eligible for the additional 15 hours of free childcare each parent must be working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) a minimum of 16 hours each per week. These limits are measured for eligibility purposes on average over a period of three months on a reasonable expectation basis. In order to be eligible for the additional 15 hours of free childcare, the maximum income per parent is £100,000 per annum. For Dependants working overseas who pay Income Tax to HMRC or devolved equivalents, confirmation of eligibility is required from their employer (DBS). For Dependants working overseas as Locally Engaged Civilians (LECs) not paying Income Tax to HMRC or devolved equivalents, it will be the responsibility of the local Command through the LEC employer or agency, to confirm their eligibility. Dependants working overseas on the local economy will be required to provide proof from their employer in order to confirm their eligibility.

To ensure stability for children, parents and providers, the government has introduced a grace period should families cease to be eligible, before the existing entitlement is withdrawn. This grace period will be mirrored, where reasonably practicable, by the MOD.

 

How to apply

If you currently qualify for the free 15 hours in an MOD-provided setting and fulfill the above eligibility criteria for the additional 15 hours entitlement, please complete this Application Form.

If you qualify for MOD Overseas Nursery Allowance and fulfill the above eligibility criteria for the additional 15 hours entitlement, please complete this Application Form for MOD Overseas Nursery Allowance.

 

Contact

Please contact SO2 Policy, DCYP for further information at DCYP-DCYP-Mailbox@mod.gov.uk

 

Further Information

Find out more about childcare for Service children here.

 

Posted on: 12th May, 2016
Last updated on: 15th July, 2020