By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
When the Army Family Covenant was signed in October 2007 Family became essential to Soldier’s success and longevity in the military.
Fast forward nearly six years later and the AFC is still vital to Families of deployed and rear detachment Soldiers.
Becky Laux, the Child, Youth and School Services program operations specialist, said AFC money helps Families of deployed Soldiers and their spouses and spouses of rear detachment Soldiers.
“(This) wonderful pot of money is also there for (Soldiers who are on) temporary permanent change of station orders, permanent change of station orders, an unaccompanied tour or TDY (temporary duty) that spans to 179 days,” explained Laux. “These Families are entitled to benefits that range from 16 hours of free respite care per child per month.
“The beauty of it is a Mission Level 1 Family gets 16 hours of respite care to use any way they want to use it.”
Mission Level 1 includes Families of deployed Soldiers. Laux pointed out that the 16 hours of free respite care per month can be used if the spouse is volunteering, working or if they just need a day of rest and relaxation. And the 16 hours apply to the Fort Knox Child Development Center, School Age Center and Family child care homes. All three levels receive free hourly or kids on site care during mandatory deployment meetings and free group child care while attending memorial services.
Mission Level 1 Families may also take advantage of an hourly care fee of $2 beyond the 16 free respite care hours, up to $300 for children enrolled in SKIES, up to $100 for CYSS team and individual sports per child.
If the Soldier is deployed the Family member’s full or part day care is reduced by 20 percent.
“(This is) a way of reaching out to these Families,” said Laux. “They serve as well as the Soldier.”
Mission Level 2 Families include those who are at Knox for a temporary change of station, PCS, an unaccompanied tour or TDY from 90 to 170 days. These Families 16 hours of free respite care per child per month during designated eligibility period, hourly care fee of $2 per child per hour rate for hourly care beyond the 16 free respite care hours, up to $150 for SKIES classes per child/youth during designated support assignment, up to $50 for CYSS team and individual sports per child/youth during designated support assignment, which means this care is available while the Soldier and his Family are at Knox for a PCS move, temporary change of station, unaccompanied tour or TDY.
Laux said Mission Level 3 includes Families of rear detachment and warrior in transition cadre.
“Rear detachment cadre are not fully aware they get benefits,” she said. “They get free hourly care during Family readiness Group meetings. I encourage Lt. Col. Dennis Atkins, the rear operations commander for (the) 3rd (Brigade Combat Team), 1st (Infantry Division), FRG leaders and RD (cadre) are entitled to these benefits.”
Mission Level 3 Families receive five hours of free respite care per month during designated support assignment, hourly care fee of $2 per child per hour rate for any hourly care beyond the five free respite care hours, up to $150 for SKIES classes per child/ youth during designated support assignment, which includes the time while the Soldier is a rear detachment or warrior in transition cadre, up to $50 for CYSS team and individual sports per child/youth during designated support assignment.
Laux said she is also using social media and community outreach to get the word out to Soldiers and Families about the benefits that are available to them.
“(I am) trying to highlight the biggest take away (they are) entitled to (which is) respite care. It’s yours even if you want to sit in your car,” Laux said. “We feel spouses need to be taken care of. They have a lot of stress.”
Laux added that’s important that parents register their children with Parent Central. To register, call (502) 624-6703. Rear detachment cadre need to have a copy of their Enlisted Records Brief or Officer Records Brief when registering and all others need deployment orders.