It's a great and generous responsibility to care for a service member's family while he or she is deployed. If you've been named in a service member's Family Care Plan as the person who will care for a family member of a deployed service member, you want to be able to do that important job as well as you can. Here, you'll learn about Family Care Plans and other information and documents you'll need. By knowing about these documents, you'll be better prepared to take the best possible care of the family until the service member comes home.
The Family Care Plan
All service members who need someone outside of their immediate family to care for family members during temporary duty assignments or extended deployments must have a Family Care Plan. The requirement applies to single and dual-military parents who have children under age nineteen. It also applies to service members who have sole responsibility for the care of a disabled or elderly family member.
The Family Care Plan is a "blueprint" describing how a service member's family should be cared for while the service member is away. The service member's plan will name you as the caregiver. Ideally, it should contain all the information you'll need for a smooth transition of responsibilities, including the following:
- expectations and schedules for child care, school, and extracurricular activities
- medical care information, such as medications, allergies, and doctor's appointments
- guidance on food preferences and restrictions, bedtime, discipline, religious observances and activities, social and leisure activities, safety precautions, allowances and spending, and other parenting responsibilities and challenges
- contact information for friends and relatives, health care and other service providers, community resources, and the service member's unit
- location of documents such as wills, insurance papers, and birth certificates
- information on how the financial support of family members will be managed
- name and contact information of the alternate caregiver
It's a good idea for the service member to review the draft plan with you. You may need to ask for more detailed information in some areas, and you may find that some information you'll need has not been included. By working together, you and the service member can be confident that the plan submitted to the service member's command will meet everyone's needs.
Service members should get guidance from their command. The Legal Assistance Offices will be able to help with necessary legal documents that may be needed to support the Family Care Plan to meet all of the requirements for command approval.
There are other documents the service member may need including the following:
- Power of attorney. This is a legal document appointing you to act as the service member's agent to care for children and related affairs for a specified period of time. The power of attorney gives you the authority to make parenting decisions, including those pertaining to medical care. It is a required part of the Family Care Plan.
- Military ID cards. An ID card identifies a family member as a military family member enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). The service member should make sure each family member in your care is registered in DEERS and has a current ID card (age ten or older). Caregivers do not get their own ID cards while caring for military children.
- Agent letter of authorization. As a caregiver under the Family Care Plan, you can access needed on-installation facilities such as medical support, child care, and schools, and make purchases at the commissary and exchange, all in support of the family members in your care. You must have a letter of authorization signed by the commanding officer of the installation. The service member may request this letter through the ID card office at the installation, or you may make the request.
For more information about documents you should have for your designated family caregiver, speak to a consultant at Military OneSource by calling 1-800-342-9647.