Single parents in the military and families in which both parents serve must have a family care plan on file with their current commanding officer. This plan outlines what is going to happen with minor children, as well as special needs individuals who are cared for by the service member.
This care plan has to include specific points. Once you have it all set, your commanding officer must approve it. You then have to update or recertify it at least annually. Remember, the family care plan only goes into effect if you aren't able to care for the children because of your military duties, including deployments, training, drills and mobilizations.
What should be included in the family care plan?
There are several things that should be included in this plan. While some of these might not apply to your situation, most of them are universal.
- Designate two caregivers. One should be a short-term caregiver who lives close to your duty station and who isn't in the military. The other should be a long-term caregiver who can live anywhere but isn't in the military.
- Write out the normal routine. This includes daily, weekly and monthly activities. Include the schedule for school, extracurricular activities, religious services and anything else that the caregiver can use to keep your child's schedule consistent.
- Provide a list of contacts. This should include any relatives the caregiver may need to contact, doctors, babysitters, school officials and any military resources they might find useful.
- Give a list of special concerns. This can be a child's allergies or special information about medication conditions. Make note of any special accommodations the child needs at school or daycare.
- Let them know where documents are. Your child's caregiver might need to know where you keep documents like birth certificates, insurance documents and powers of attorney forms. Make a list of where they can find these so they can easily grab them if necessary.
What should they know about military ID cards?
Your children should have dependent military ID cards that enable them to access the base or installation, the commissary or exchange, and other military-related events or locations. You should explain to the caregivers how to use these. If the caregiver doesn't have a military ID, they can show their powers of attorney form along with your child's military ID to gain access to the base. They will need to get a letter of authorization from the commanding officer in order to shop on the base.
If you are currently going through the process of setting a child custody plan in California, make sure that you address the need for the family care plan. Having these taken care of right now can help to make your life much easier.