Wraparound childcare: Karen’s experience

“It’s a huge thing for me, because it’s the military showing support and encouraging me to be able to go out and strive for something else.”

The wraparound childcare scheme allows service families with children aged 4–11 to apply for free childcare before and after school. The pilot scheme is now being trialled by all three Services at different bases.

Karen and Dan

Dan and Karen both work at RAF High Wycombe — she is a civil servant while he works in Communications Support.

The couple first met 13 years ago in Cyprus when Dan was posted there, and later moved back to the UK. They celebrated their 10 year wedding anniversary in September and have 3 children aged 8, 7 and 4.

Dan has been in the RAF for 19 years and is currently responsible for liaising with Station IT Sections to address RAF wide problems.

Originally from Lincolnshire, there was a big RAF footprint in his local area and he had friends and family in the military. The RAF offered the training he wanted, the opportunity to travel and interesting roles.

Dan in his RAF role

Karen works in the RAF Senior Appointments team as a Support Assistant. After starting her role 16 months ago, she initially worked part time, around their children’s schools hours. Since the introduction of the wraparound childcare pilot in September 2020, she has been able to start working full time:

“The benefits are huge. With three small children, the cost of childcare to us before was astronomical and essentially negated me working at all. The Civil Service is really flexible and supportive to parents and families, so my intention was to continue to be part time and to work around school.

When we heard about the wraparound childcare scheme initially, we were a little bit cynical because we thought it sounded too good to be true! But it has allowed me the opportunity to move into full time employment. As the scheme continues it will allow me to progress in my career towards promotion, which is huge for me.

Dan with Libby, Morgan and Scott

For Dan, who recently commissioned as an officer, the scheme has eased the stress of balancing Service commitments and family life:

“When I’ve come home from being away in training or otherwise, I felt under quite a bit of pressure, thinking about what was coming the next week. This scheme has helped to both develop Karen’s career and help take a little bit of pressure off us.

“I think it will go quite far towards persuading people to join, especially if they are joining with a young family to start with.”

Karen adds:

If you’ve had a career break, this is basically giving you the support to allow you to return to work after having children.

And if you’ve not had children yet, whether you’re in the military or you’re a spouse, you don’t need to stop your career as the military are going to support you, your children and your family. The financial benefits that it offers are genuinely life-saving too. It really does make a huge difference at the end of the month to serving families.

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