Following the Government’s commitment to childcare support for the Armed Forces, we ran a survey asking families to share their views about the unique childcare issues they face as an Army family. We heard from spouses and partners, Service personnel and dual serving families.
Childcare can be a challenge for civilian families, but Army families face extra challenges due to the mobile nature of Army life.
In total 84% of families told us that the most significant challenge they faced was the fact that the soldier was unable to regularly help with childcare.
One family told us, “Childcare is not at the forefront of the military mindset. I feel that the military believe that as the spouse, we should be the ones looking after the child, sacrificing our careers. There is no provision from the military for the working spouse.”
Lack of family support
A large proportion of families (82%) also faced childcare challenges because of a lack of family support locally. A large number (61%) who are not using unpaid childcare would like to but do not live close enough to those who can help.
Effect on spousal employment
The survey found that provision of childcare had a negative impact on the ability of spouses and partners to secure and maintain employment.
A family remarked: “Due to moving and lack of childcare support, I have had to remain junior in my profession while people I have trained are now more senior than me.”
Cost is a barrier
The survey found that cost is a significant barrier to childcare with 38% of families saying this was their top reason for not using paid childcare.
One parent said they “left the military due to childcare costs. We were both serving.”
We found that help with the cost would help Army families to access childcare. We also recommended that serving personnel have as much notice as possible of their posting location so that families have time to plan their childcare arrangements.
AFF is working with the chain of command and the MOD and our next job is to make sure those at the very highest levels of policy-making listen to your views and engage with families.
Take a look at our brief to Army command.
See the autumn issue of Army&You magazine for more information.