Leaving your child or dependent mother alone for the entire duration of your deployment is the most difficult part of military life for many military families. Completing a military family care plan guarantees that your loved ones are safe and looked after while you’re away and can ease some of these anxieties.
Who needs to have a family care plan?
Family care plans are for active duty service members and their families only. Single parents with children who are 18 and younger and dual military couples must fill out a plan.
Service members who have joint or full custody of at least one child whose biological or adoptive parent is not the service member’s spouse also have to complete a plan. When service members are responsible for dependent family members, they most likely need to have a family care plan.
Just because a family isn’t required to have a plan doesn’t mean they cannot. It doesn’t hurt to do the paperwork to prepare for the worst, such as a spouse’s incapacitation and inability to care for their child.
What does the plan do?
In the instance that you and/or your spouse get deployed, sent to training or put on temporary service, your family care plan is there to outline who will care for your children or other dependents.
Plans specify caregivers, who have to be non-military civilians at least 21 years old. Service members set short- and long-term plans. For short-term absences, caregivers usually are in the living area of dependents. Caregivers assigned in the case of long-term absences don’t need to live nearby.
Although legal wills define who gets custody of children, family care plans define who takes care of them until permanent custody gets established.
Family care plans set up financial preparations to make sure families have the money they need. Details about moving a family are necessary, especially if children or elderly dependents are part of the move. Even if they are not deemed the caregiver, adoptive or biological parents have to be named on the plan. They also have to give their consent.
How do I complete a Family care plan?
Once a service member becomes a single parent or part of a military couple with a child, he or she has 30 days to tell a commander, a commander’s representative or a supervisor about the change. Then the service member has 60 days to submit a family care plan. Not doing so may result in separation from the military.
The Department of Defense instructions cover all the minutiae. Meet with a commander, a commander’s designated representative or a supervisor for assistance in creating a family care plan. Review from your commander helps you and your family piece everything together.
In the end, he or she will approve of the plan, giving your family peace of mind in case you are asked to serve.
Photo thanks to cwwycoff1 via Flickr Creative Commons