HEIDELBERG, Germany - The Exceptional Family Member Program respite care service received an important financial boost from funding provided to Installation Management Command-Europe's Army Community Services under the Army Family Covenant. This is the second year funding has been provided for this program.

"There has always been recognition that it's a need, but last year was the first time we received any funding for it," Lynn McCollum, IMCOM-Europe, Army Community Service director, said of respite care program. "For this year, we're investing almost $900,000 in Europe to allow families with exceptional family members or children or family member with special needs to obtain respite care, to give them a break, an opportunity to put wind back in their sails."

EFMP respite care is a program that provides temporary rest periods for Family members responsible for regular care of persons with special needs, according to Becky Myers, IMCOM-Europe Family Advocacy Program and EFMP Manager. Care can be provided in the EFMP respite care user's home, EFMP respite care worker's home or other community childcare settings.

"This year's funding was recently received and is ready to use at the garrison's for those Family Members who are eligible," said Myers. "The availability of the respite care service is very important to those Families who use the program. This funding gives these Families the piece of mind to know that we are able to continue providing this very important service. It also demonstrates the Army's commitment to its Soldiers and Families."

Tracy Curran, a Family member from USAG Mannheim who has used the respite care services, said news of the funding means that she and her husband can now look ahead with more confidence they will be able to keep pace with day-to-day challenges.

"As a mother of a special needs child, respite care means so much to my family. It allows my husband and I to feel comfortable leaving our son with someone we know has been screened and trained to deal with his special needs," said Curran. "It allows my husband and I to spend some well earned time with each other without the worries that our care provider is not adequately equipped to deal with our child's issues. It also allows us, from time to time, to focus some well needed one-on-one time with our other son, without having to split our attention.

Curran said she was "very pleased" to hear that the Respite program was going to continue this fiscal year because it is such an important program.

"Not only to my family or in our community, but military wide," she said. "This program not only gives spouses and soldiers a trained care provider to watch their special children, but it also gives those spouses who are without their soldier some well earned 'me time' without having to worry about having a care provider who is not adequately trained to deal with our special children."

"My understanding is that the Army Family Covenant is what made this program available for another year," said Curran. "As I feel it is one of the most important programs implemented over the past year, I am certainly pleased that the Covenant has given us the opportunity to continue this program."

Under EFMP respite care, qualifying Families are eligible to receive up to 40 hours of EFMP respite care monthly for each certified Exceptional Family Member (EFM), said Myers. Eligibility for EFMP respite care funding is based on EFMP enrollment, exceptional Family member's medical or educational condition, and deployment needs (pre-deployment, deployment, post-deployment).

Additional details about EFMP eligibility and respite care can be found by clicking on Army Family Europe Toolkit banner located on the IMCOM-Europe website. The toolkit also features a wide variety of other useful family-oriented information. People are also encouraged to contact their local ACS EFMP manager for information about respite care services, said Myers.

Page last updated Wed April 2nd, 2008 at 07:32