CYSS, Blue Star Card support families during deployment
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Army family members participate in PT in the Park during a Month of the Military Child event held in April, here. Sponsored by FMWR, the event was filled with child-friendly physical activities such as jumping, running and dancing - all to enhance their quality of life and health.

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - For many military families, child care is a necessity, and quality child care is more important than ever, especially with deployments now becoming a way of life.

Established in 2007, the Army Family Covenant's goal has been to provide quality of life services and support to those who serve and their families. Since that time, registration for Child, Youth and School Services has been free for all families.

CYSS, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, strives to offer programs and activities to keep kids engaged, active and entertained while putting parents' minds at ease, and can contribute even more through AFC and its initiatives.

Additional benefits are offered in conjunction with the Blue Star Card program. Started in Hawaii in 2004, the Blue Star Card is a discount and activities card offered, free of charge, to families of deployed Soldiers, wounded warriors and fallen warriors. The most wide-ranging project of its kind, Blue Star Card has proven to be a popular and beneficial initiative with more than 3,800 cardholders taking part in its advantages since 2008.

Members enjoy a variety of monthly activities to help pass the time during deployments and can spend quality time with other spouses who are also going through the same experience.

But the benefits don't stop there.

Through AFC, family members can receive up to 16 hours of free respite care per month, and hourly care at a rate of $2 per hour, beyond that. This benefit is valuable for families whose resources are already stretched thin during a deployment. Free "Kids on Site" care is available during mandatory deployment meetings like family readiness group meetings. Also, in a partnership with CYSS, Blue Star Card offers families free enrollment in youth sports programs and Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited classes, up to a specified amount.

As a recently added benefit, members may partake in the first week of the month, for free, in all EDGE! programs as well. EDGE! programs (Experience, Develop, Grow and Excel) offer out-of-school opportunities for children ages 6-18. As part of the AFC, these CYSS benefits are also extended to rear detachment personnel.

<b>Blue Star Card</b>
To qualify for the Blue Star Card, an applicant must be a spouse or designated family care plan provider of an active duty, Reserve or National Guard Soldier or an Army civilian stationed in Hawaii who is being deployed on combat duty for at least six months. Applicants may apply for the Blue Star Card up to 30 days prior to the Soldier's or civilian's deployment by completing the application and bringing a copy of the deployment orders to Army Community Service, Building 2091, Schofield Barracks. Applications are available online. The process takes only a few minutes and provides family members with access to benefits designed to support them during deployments.

To learn more about the Blue Star Card program, visit <a href="http://www.bluestarcardhawaii.com">www.bluestarcardhawaii.com</a>, e-mail <a href="mailto:sarah.chadwick@us.army.mil">sarah.chadwick@us.army.mil</a> or call 808-655-0002.

<i>(Editor's Note: This article appeared in the Hawaii Army Weekly's Oct. 29 special insert on the Army Family Covenant. Click <a href="http://www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com/special-inserts/">here</a> to view the entire 8-page feature.)</i>

Page last updated Tue November 2nd, 2010 at 15:32