Military family life
Family life can be difficult in the military especially if partners are deployed or a family is moving around. Children can be unsettled during military life but it also brings great opportunity and there is always the support from the extended armed forces family as well as plenty of support from the individual service and welfare organisations.
In Family Life we have included some information which may support you either as a serving military family or a veteran family. Family life is very busy especially welcoming a new child, applying for schools, understanding entitlements when it comes to benefits and childcare, and supporting older children.
Benefits and allowances
A very useful tool developed by the MOD is available for serving personnel and those thinking of joining the Armed Forces. The discover my benefits tool has been designed to help service families across the Armed Forces and will show you the support you may be entitled to with sections for Army, RAF, Navy and Marines.
The Army Families Federation is a really good resource for helping make sense of the allowances for Army Personnel.
There is also lots of information on Gov.uk on Universal Credit, Child Benefit and maternity pay.
Help with childcare is essential if you are working especially in a serving military family when a spouse is deployed. There is lots of information on Gov.UK regarding childcare entitlement. At three years old some children will be eligible for 30 free hours in a registered childcare setting. This can vary from setting to setting. There is also help for childcare between the ages of 2 and 4. There is a calculator on the Gov.uk website that will help. It’s useful to have dates of birth, details of income and any current benefits before using the childcare calculator.
Tax Free Childcare Accounts are an additional way to help with childcare costs and work alongside the free hours entitlement. For every £8 you pay into your Tax Free Childcare Account, the government will pay in £2. You then use your TFC to pay your childcare setting direct. https://www.gov.uk/get-tax-free-childcare
There is some useful information on childcare for service children https://www.gov.uk/guidance/childcare-for-service-children
Starting school life
Children start school in the September after they turn four years old. Legally children must be in school after they turn five.
Applying for schools is normally completed at the start of the calendar year in which they will attend school and you will get notification from their childcare setting or local authority. There may be certain documents that you need to provide if you are applying from a different country as you are currently on a deployment. This will normally be evidence of the address you will be at as your child starts the academic year. There is lots of information about applying on the gov.uk website.
The process is the same for applying for secondary schools. If you are in any doubt about the application or are needing to apply outside of the dates provided by the local authority, get in touch with your local council. Find our your local council details here.
There is lots of help available to support your family. Alongside the help you can receive from the service welfare association if a serving military family, there are many free helplines and free resources out there to support if you are worried about a child or are struggling with family life:
Each service has a Families Federation, which can offer you support and advice on a wide range of issues. They work with your service and every level of government as your advocate.
They often meet with government including Department of Work and Pensions, Department of Education, Department of Health and the Ministry of Defence and will be working on issues that affect the serving armed forces and family community.
Click on the relevant links below: