January 30, 2009
For Soldiers about to deploy, or already downrange, care of their families is normally a hot issue on their minds.
One of the tools available for Soldiers to direct the care and wishes of the family is the family care plan.
"A family care plan, or FCP, designates who will have short term and long term guardianship of children in the event of deployment, training, TDY, or unaccompanied overseas tour," said Mitzie Klozotsky, 75th Fires Brigade Family Readiness Support assistant. "An FCP can also designate who will be responsible for children should an emergency arise and the spouse of a deployed Soldier is unable to provide care for the children and provides guidelines for the guardians as to the specifics of care for the child."
Single parents or dual military parents must have both a short term and long term family care Plan, according to Army Regulation 600-20. All other parents are encouraged to have one as well. Additionally, if the spouse has a language barrier, or does not have transportation, the spouse's commander may require a FCP.
"Soldiers may be called away from their family at anytime. An FCP will ensure the Soldier's family is taken care of in the Soldier's absence. A unit isn't ready until the families are ready. It is also a very good idea for all families to have a FCP in the event the spouse is, for a variety of possible reasons, unable to care for the children."
Two providers need to be identified in the FCP: a short-term and long-term provider, said Klozotsky.
The short term care provider is a non-military person (they may be a military spouse) who has agreed, in writing, to accept care of the children at anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the event the military member is called to duty or to deploy with no-notice. The short-term provider must live in the local area and must sign the FCP, she added.
The long term care provider must also be a non-military member who will agree, in writing, to care for the children in the event of a deployment or unaccompanied overseas tour. This provider does not have to live in the local area. However, the FCP must contain provisions for transporting children from the short-term-care provider to the long-term provider. The long-term care provider must also sign the FCP.
In the event of an accident and no FCP has been established, the hospital could notify the local Department of Human Services and the children could be placed in temporary foster care. Typically however, the hospital will notify the Soldier's unit. The unit commander or family readiness group will step in to assist until a plan for care is established, Klozotsky stated.
Creating an FCP ensures the children are cared for according to the parent's wishes. Also, an FCP outlines any special needs or medications for the children and ensures the children are placed with someone they know. This is especially important in the event of a parent's accident or other traumatic situation.
"Additional information that should be included in the FCP is school or church schedules, important medical information such as allergies or required medications. The Soldiers should also ensure immunizations are up to date and ID cards are current through the deployment," said Klozotsky.
"Family care plans must be reviewed annually or more often if changes are needed," she said.
"Having a current and accurate FCP is most important," said Klozotsky.