FORT EUSTIS, Va. (July 23, 2009) -- Since the Army Family Covenant was signed at Fort Eustis in October 2007, the Army has continued to honor its commitment to improve the quality or life for Soldiers and their families. Considerable strides have been made in implementing the major objectives, including expanded services for children and youth.

Child, Youth and School Services provides free respite care for children of deployed Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians. Suzanne Sutton, CYSS outreach director, said that the program is a wonderful way to help alleviate stress during periods of deployment.

"Being a military spouse myself and having lived through deployments, I think it was very well thought out to give spouses the opportunity to have some services that they normally wouldn't have," she said "Plus it gives them some breaks."

Children of mission level one and two personnel are eligible to receive 16 hours of free care per child per month. Additional care is only $2 per hour.

For mission level three personnel, five hours of free care will be provided per child per month. The cost of additional time is only $2 per hour as well.

All respite care is provided in a minimum four-hour time block and is available 30-days prior to deployment through 60-days after.

Families can use their allotted respite care hours through multiple options, including the Child Development Center, Family Child Care Homes and On-Site Child Care. Hours can even be put toward summer camps for school-age children.

Since February 2008, more than 1.1 million respite care hours have been provided across Army garrisons, making it one of the best received CYSS offerings. Annual registration is free for all families looking to utilize this program; simply contact Sutton at 878-4025.

Free respite care is also available for children with special needs. Army Community Service provides the care through their Exceptional Family Member Program. Families enrolled in the program may be eligible if their child has a moderate to severe special need. Adults with a moderate to severe special need can also be covered by EFMP respite care.

Marlene Cherrye, ACS EFMP coordinator, says that qualified families can get up to 40 hours of in-home care per month. Although not all families will receive the full amount, having a deployed Soldier in the family can garner more hours for the period of deployment.

ACS, through their contract with Align Staffing, can recommend respite care workers to a family based on their specific needs.

The family can then talk with the prospective caregivers before selecting the one that suits them best. In cases where medicine must be administered or advanced medical training is required, ACS and Align Staffing will refer the family to a home healthcare agency for a caregiver.

On the other hand, some families choose to use caregivers not affiliated with ACS, like neighbors or friends. In order to take advantage of EFMP respite care, those caregivers must undergo training with Cherrye. However, members of the immediate or live-in family can apply for a training waiver.

EFMP respite care hours can also be used for overnight care or summer camps. Families are responsible for finding camps and submitting the corresponding paperwork for approval. If approved, the care hours can be applied to two consecutive weeks of camp.

Soldiers who have family members with educational or medical needs that require special care or management must enroll their families in EFMP, even if they are not seeking respite care. Conditions can range from mild to severe.

Cherrye stated that sometimes Soldiers are hesitant to enroll their families in EFMP.

"They think it affects their career but it does not," she said. "A query is done to make sure that when you take your family somewhere else, services are available to them. So it's a win, win situation."

One of the many benefits of enrolling in the EFMP program is possible eligibility to reside in handicap- accessible housing on post. To qualify, an EFMP family must have a member with limited mobility and be approved by Cherrye.

Pat Andrews, the project director for Balfour Beatty Communities, explained that the handicap-accessible houses are called Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards homes. Each UFAS home has one story, four bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a two-car garage. There are special accommodations for wheelchair access in each home, including handicap-accessible bathrooms, lower counters and sinks in the bathrooms and kitchen, and wider doorways and hallways. In addition, there is a ramp leading from the garage into the house and all door thresholds are designed so that they can be easily rolled over.

Andrews pointed out that UFAS homes must constitute 5 percent of all new construction. So with 450 new houses on post, there are 22 UFAS homes, and they are located across the Balfour Beatty Communities neighborhoods.

"They're mixed in with the rest because the last thing you want to do is single them out," he said. "They're strategically placed so that they're mixed in with any other normal house."
Families looking to reside in UFAS homes, receive EFMP respite care, or simply enroll in EFMP should contact Cherrye at 878-0910.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16