A Quick Overview of Childcare for UK Service Children

Free Wraparound Childcare Pilot Launched

The wraparound childcare pilot commenced at RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton at the start of the Autumn term, 01 September 2020 and will continue for an academic year. The second phase of the pilot is due to start in the Plymouth area and Catterick Garrison at the start of the Spring term, 1 January 2021.

You can read more about the free wraparound childcare pilot.

Eligible service personnel (Tri-Service) will be able to apply for up to 20 hours per week free wraparound childcare (term time) for 4 to 11 year-old children attending before and after school clubs delivered by an Ofsted (or equivalent) registered childcare provider. At least 1 parent must be an armed forces regular or full time reservist (Full Commitment) and both parents must be in paid employment.

Applications can be accepted now for all 3 pilot areas:

Applications should be forwarded to the Childcare Support Team (CST), DCYP-HQ-WACP-Mailbox@mod.gov.uk.

Full details can be viewed on the defence intranet at the following links:

Alternatively, full eligibility criteria can be requested by emailing the Childcare Support Team DCYP-HQ-WACP-Mailbox@mod.gov.uk.

For more information please visit the Discover My Benefits website.

United Kingdom (UK)

There are a number of childcare options for parents to choose from. Parents should go to Childcare Choices for further information and guidance on all available government childcare schemes.

  • England:
    • From September 2017, working parents in England with children aged 3 and 4 years old, are entitled to 30 hours free childcare.
    • You can also check to see if you are eligible for Tax-Free Childcare (TFC). You can get TFC at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both.
  • Scotland:
    • For the current childcare offer in Scotland, parents should visit Parent Club or mygov.scot for information about early learning and childcare (ELC).
  • Wales:
    • For the current childcare offer in Wales parents should visit the Welsh Government website for further information and guidance.
  • Northern Ireland:
    • For the current childcare offer in Northern Ireland, parents should contact 38 (Irish) Brigade at RC-AWS-38X-0mailbox@mod.gov.uk for further information and guidance.

Returning from Overseas or Moving within the UK

30 hours free childcare codes are not valid overseas.

If you are returning from overseas or moving within the UK, please visit the 30 hours free childcare page to find out what is available in your area. The application process and deadlines may vary.

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.

HMRC will determine eligibility for the scheme by completing a manual application at the time of the call. If all eligibility criteria are met, the parent will need to provide HMRC with evidence of returning to England. This evidence will be in the form of an assignment order or civilian posting notice.

When this document is received and verified by HMRC, the parent will be issued with a manual 30 hours code to the email address supplied when completing the application. HMRC will provide details of where to send documents at time of application.

The 30 hours code can be given to the childcare provider prior to, or, upon their return to England. You can read 30 hours free childcare 2019DIN01-114 for more information and to apply.


In overseas locations, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) provides services (or access to services) that, so far as is reasonably practicable, conform in type, scope and standard to that required by legislation in England.

Parents will have access to the following:

  • 15 and 30 hours Free Childcare:
    • In MOD nursery settings overseas parents with children aged 3 and 4 years old can access 15 or 30 hours free childcare (depending on eligibility).
    • 30 hours free childcare 2019DIN01-114 applies when registering for the additional entitlement.
    • Applications should be forwarded to the relevant setting or school for approval and recording.
  • Overseas Nursery Allowance (ONA):
    • Formerly referred to as ISODET Overseas Nursery Allowance moving forward this will be known as Overseas Nursery Authority (ONA).
    • Parents of 3 and 4 year-olds in overseas locations, where MOD schools and settings are not available, can apply for reimbursement of nursery fees by means of ONA.
    • 2020DIN01-046 applies.
    • Applications should be sent to armyres-armyhq-blb-mailbox@mod.gov.uk.
  • Childcare Vouchers:
    • The Childcare Voucher scheme is a salary sacrifice scheme, which closed to new joiners in October 2018.
    • Parents can visit the MOD childcare website for more information about the Childcare Voucher scheme.
    • DIN 2017DIN01-092 (service personnel) or DIN 2008DIN01-176 (civilians) apply.
    • Childcare vouchers can only be used at nurseries or childminders that are MOD approved, regulated and inspected.
  • Tax-Free Childcare:
    • Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) is a new government scheme introduced on 21 April 2017 to help working parents with the cost of childcare and will, over time, replace the armed forces Childcare Voucher Scheme.
    • Parents have the option to open an online account, which they can use to pay for childcare from an accredited and registered provider.
    • Parents can visit the Childcare Choices website to register.
    • For further information you can visit Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) and you can also use this step by step guide to claiming TFC.
    • TFC can only be used at nurseries or childminders that are MOD approved (regulated and inspected).
    • There are also some rest of the world locations where TFC is not currently available.
    • DIN 2018DIN01-011 applies.
  • Universal Infant Free School Meals:
    • The Department of Education announced that from September 2014 funding would be made available to enable state funded schools in England to offer a free meal to every primary school pupil in Reception classes, Year 1 and Year 2.
    • Service children in schools overseas in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 or their national equivalent are entitled to a free school meal.
    • In some locations the schools will provide the meal but in others this may not be possible due to local conditions or restrictions.
    • This provision is offered in line with English government legislation.
    • 2019DIN01-021 applies.

Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)

Details of how to apply for TFC/30 hours when in receipt of Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) will be published by the Government in due course.


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