Stacey sits on some stairs with her two children and husband Ian

Supporting Armed Forces families: wraparound childcare

Sgt Stacey

For Stacey and her husband Ian, who is about to leave the Army for a career in construction, having free childcare support has helped to remove financial pressures. The couple have two children aged 8 and 4.

I think the Army has changed massively and there are a lot more ways to be flexible with your working routine. For people that want to join up who have children, it’s a stable career and now with the wraparound childcare as well that’s one less stress to worry about.

Stacey stands wearing uniform and a beret
Stacey on Op Trenton in 2019

As a Staff Support Assistant at Catterick Garrison, Stacey handles discipline and appraisals, as well as providing mentoring and support to junior personnel.

“I enjoy it all because there’s never anything that’s the same. I really like the coaching and mentoring of the junior soldiers because you really feel that you’re helping them develop themselves both personally and within the working environment.”

Since joining 18 years ago, she has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and recently deployed on Op Trenton, the contribution of the United Kingdom in support of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in 2019.

With two parents serving full-time in the military, arranging childcare for their children has always been a necessity. The new scheme, which provides free childcare before and after school for children aged 4 to 11, has been vital to alleviating pressure on the family, removing the financial burden of childcare.

Stacey, Ian and children eating in a restaurant.
Stacey, Ian and their children

The family signed up to the wraparound childcare pilot in January 2021 and Stacey says she was impressed by how quick and simple the process was.

“Having paid childcare fees from when my son was born to now having 30 hours of childcare paid for, this just alleviates so much pressure.

It just takes so much worry away, knowing that for the next couple of months we’ll be able to have the majority of our childcare paid for, and I can still be in work for the time that I need to be.

PO James

For James, a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy, the start of the wraparound childcare pilot in January has made a huge difference to his wife’s career, and had a knock-on impact to his whole family.

“The initiative is making the single biggest difference to our family life than any other in my 18 years service.”

Since joining, James’s role has taken him on operational deployments to Afghanistan, as well as travelling the world whilst on board warship HMS Enterprise.

He married Fleur in 2011 and they now have two children aged 7 and 5.

“Since having children my wife has had to put her own career within the NHS on hold, having to settle for a role which offers the greatest flexibility when it comes to hours around childcare.

“Whilst school clubs were always available to us, we have had to balance availability against the cost of putting our 2 children into breakfast and after school clubs each day.

James, Fleur and children with trees in the background.
James and his family

“With the financial implications removed, my wife can now afford to apply for jobs that she really wants to do rather than settling for the most accommodating.

“The implications of this are not lost on me. Throughout my career I have been supported and encouraged to strive for better and progress as far as I can. I feel now I can return the favour even without physically being at home. This is in no small part down to the wraparound childcare pilot.”

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