As restrictions continue to ease make your childcare arrangements in good time

With more sectors re-opening and a phased return to the workplace for some – many parents will have changing childcare needs in the new school year. Find out what financial support is available to your family.

As Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease across the UK, and the furlough scheme begins to wind down, many employees have now returned to the workplace for the first time in many months, for example those working in hospitality and tourism, while others who have been working from home are planning a phased or blended return to their ‘usual’ place of work.

This means many parents will be faced with changing childcare requirements – from needing full-time childcare for younger children, to sourcing wraparound care for school age children – where previously working from home, or being on furlough, facilitated school drop offs and pick ups.

Finding childcare

Many childcare providers have been reporting an increase in enquiries for both full and part time places from September, and have seen a high demand for summer childcare places. We know that access to childcare is vital for working parents – so if you anticipate using any form of registered childcare we would advise getting in touch with providers as soon as possible.

You may need to confirm your plans with your existing provider in order to retain a space, or secure a place at a new provider. Don’t leave it too late to secure the childcare you need, with your preferred provider.

The Family Support NI website has lots of useful information and the only search facility listing ALL registered childcare providers in Northern Ireland, to help you find registered childcare providers in your area.

Support with childcare costs

If you are starting to use childcare again, or changing to a different type or pattern of childcare use, it’s important to know that most households, where the parents are working, are eligible for some form of support with registered childcare costs. So, whether your children are going to childcare for the first time or you are returning to work for the first time in a number of months, make sure you find out what support is available

If you haven’t accessed financial support for registered childcare costs before, you could benefit from Universal Credit or Tax-Free Childcare. Others may continue to access support through Tax Credits and Childcare Vouchers, or may be better off moving on to Universal Credit or Tax-Free Childcare. Remember, if you paused making payments into your Childcare Vouchers during Covid-19, it is important you make at least one payment into your account every 52 weeks, or you will no longer be eligible for this form of support.

We are here to help

Our Family Benefits Advice Service is here to help all parents identify what support they are entitled to – just call 028 9267 8200 or email your details to and one of our skilled advisors can provide a personalised ‘better off’ calculation, based on your unique family circumstances.