Help with childcare when you have cancer

3 minute read time.
Help with childcare when you have cancer

Having a cancer diagnosis can be hard enough, and if you have young children it can be a further worry as you may need extra support to look after them. Your family life and normal routines might be affected by hospital visits and treatments, making it difficult to look after your children in the way you want.

It can feel difficult to ask for help but it is important that you do. Knowing that your children are safe while you manage your cancer can help you relax. And it can mean the time you spend with your children is likely to feel more enjoyable. This blog may give you some ideas of how you can get help with childcare.

Ask a family member or friend if they can support you

You may have a family member or friend you can ask to help with picking up children from school and nursery, or taking care of them when you have hospital appointments. Or you can ask if they could help with housework, cooking or shopping. People are usually happy to help and are just waiting to be asked.

Talk to your child’s schoolteachers

If your child is at school, contact the headteacher or form teacher about childcare the school may provide before or after the school day. Some schools have a member of staff who manages the welfare of children, and they may be aware of local childcare services you could also speak to.

Talk to someone from your healthcare team

Your GP, cancer doctor or specialist nurse may be able to direct you to local childcare providers as well. They can also talk to you about sources of emotional support for children when a parent has cancer.

We have information about how to support for a child whose parent has cancer, and guidance for talking to children and teenagers about cancer.

If you are employed, talk to your employer

Your employer may be able to offer flexible working to help you work around childcare and cancer treatment. Talk to your manager or your Human Resources (HR) department about this.

You may find it helpful to contact our Work Support Service for more information about this and your rights at work. You can call them for free on the Macmillan Support Line: 0800 808 00 00.

Help from social services

If you don’t have family or friends to help out, your local social services department is a good place to start for finding out about possible childcare options.

You can also contact your local council’s Family Information Service to get a list of the childcare services and family hubs in your area. In some areas, this is called a Childcare Information Service.

Social workers can also advise you about the childcare available in your local area. Your GP or child’s teacher can refer you.

Help with childcare costs

There are different types of help available towards childcare costs. 


Depending on your situation, you might be able to get free childcare, or help from the government to pay for childcare. You can find out more about government help with childcare costs at:

Free school meals and help with school uniform costs

If you are on certain benefits such as Income Support or Universal Credit, you may be able to apply for free school meals. If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with school uniform costs. Talk to your child’s teacher or contact your local authority.

You can find further information in these pages on our website:

You can also call Macmillan’s financial guides and welfare rights advisers for free on 0808 808 00 00.

Support from charities and organisations

Charities that provide free support and practical help with looking after children include:

If you are having difficulties with childcare, you can contact a Macmillan cancer support specialist on 0808 808 00 00.