The Basics About Army Family Care Plans

In today’s post, I want to discuss Army Family Care Plans.  I will give you a basic overview about what they are, how they work, and who needs one.  I will also share some additional resources you can read to learn more about them.

What is a Family Care Plan?

It is a plan detailing what a soldier will do with their dependent children if they are deployed, attending military school, attending Annual Training, on TDY or are sent away to perform any type of military duty.  The plan will cover who takes care of the children, financial arrangements, and ensure someone is appointed, briefed and prepared to take care of the children, if the soldier is away.

According to AR 600-20 it’s sole purpose is to document for Army purposes the plan by which the soldiers provide for the care of their family members when military duties prevent the soldier from doing so.  Please keep in mind that the Army Family Care Plan is not a legal document, nor can it alter or change any custody agreement, court order or child support obligation.

What Information is in the Family Care Plan?

Listed below, you will see what forms and letters are required in each packet.

  • DA Form 5305 (Family Care Plan Checklist/Counseling)
  • DA Form 5841 (Power of Attorney)
  • DA Form 5840 (Certificate of Acceptance as Escort or Guardian)
  • DD Form 1172 (DEERS Enrollment)
  • DD Form 2558 (Authorization to Start, Change or Stop Allotment)
  • A Letter of Instruction to the Guardian or Escort
  • DA Form 7666 (Parental Consent from non-military parent)

Soldiers are responsible for gathering this information after they are initially counseled about the requirements.  The commander/designated person must verify the documents.

Who Needs a Family Care Plan?

Not all soldiers will need a Family Care Plan.  It only pertains to single soldiers with kids, dual military members and parents with custody pursuant to a court order or separation agreement.  Married Soldiers with kids and soldiers without kids DO NOT need a Family Care Plan.

Family Care Plan Regulations

There are several regulations governing the Family Care Plan.  I recommend you start by reading Chapter 5-5 of AR 600-20.  This provides the major information you need to know about these plans and is a great starting point.  In addition, you should also read:

  • AR 635-200
  • AR 135-178
  • AR 135-91
  • AR 600-8-24
  • AR 135-175
  • NGR 635-101

Unit Commander Responsibilities

As a Unit Commander in the Army National Guard, Army Reserves or Active Duty Army, you have several responsibilities, which include:

  1. Conduct the FCP Counselings or appoint someone to do so
  2. Be the sole approving authority
  3. May authorize an extension of 30 days for Active Duty Soldiers and 60 days for ARNG and USAR Soldier to complete their plan
  4. Must review the packet to make sure it is doable, and makes sense
  5. Must consider soldiers non-deployable until their packets are approved
  6. Must test the validity of the Family Care Plan by contacting the appointed guardian
  7. Will provide the soldier with at least 30 days to fix shortcomings in the plan if it was originally disapproved
  8. Should initiate a Bar to Reenlistment for Soldiers who fail to properly manage their personal affairs
  9. Should consider initiating involuntary separations for soldiers who do not have an adequate Family Care Plan
  10. Contact non-military parent (for divorced and single soldiers) to verify the plan with them
  11. Keep up to date of changes such as marriage, divorce, adoptions, death or disability of spouse, court decrees, assumption of foster care responsibilities, etc.

As you can probably tell, there are lots of responsibilities for the commander.  Don’t make the mistake of trying to do everything yourself.  If you need to, start a small committee of 3-5 Officers and NCOs to help you manage the plans for your unit.

Tips for Success

Here are some tips for success with managing your unit’s Family Care Plans.

1. Identify all soldiers who require a Family Care Plan

2. Designate an Officer and NCO (or team) to conduct the initial counseling with the soldiers

3. Conduct the initial counseling with the soldiers during drill weekend

4. Follow up during the next two drill weekends to collect the required documents and finalize plans

5. Every 90 days, review the Family Care Plans and interview the soldiers to make sure things in their plan have not changed

6. Spot check every plan in complete detail at least once a year

7. Separate soldiers who do not have an adequate Family Care Plan or don’t manage their plan seriously

As a Unit Commander you are very busy.  You cannot delegate your responsibility, but it would be wise to have a team of Officers and NCOs help you with this time consuming task.  If I could redo my command time again, I would have placed more emphasis on these plans.  They are important for the morale and readiness of your unit.

Final Thoughts about Family Care Plans

As a former company commander, I can tell you that Family Care Plans are very time consuming.  In a unit of 120 Soldiers, you might have 10-30 Soldiers who require a plan.  I think it’s best to have a team of Officers and NCOs help you with the counseling and completing/reviewing the packets.  I also believe that commanders should make it a top priority to make sure the plans are current, accurate and complete.  And I also believe they should separate soldiers who do not or cannot keep a plan up to date.

On a side note, I would love to hear from you.  If you have experience with Family Care Plans, please share your expertise or thoughts with the rest of our community by leaving a comment to this post. Also, if you have any questions regarding the Family Care Plan, feel free to ask and we will do our best to provide an answer.

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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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9 thoughts on “The Basics About Army Family Care Plans”

  1. I not only found his chain of command, but sent him and DOD "Certified Notices" to "prove" they were informed of what was happening, and got no where. The post Chaplain "listened" but told me given all the circumstances that surrounded him, the Army was glad to be rid of him and that's the reason I was not assisted. He used my health issues so HE could chapter out on a hardship, and then didn't care for the children while I was there anyway. A Real BUM! With my income I can't afford an attorney and I have approached "Every" attorney listed as a Pro Bono in the state of CO for representation but "none" will help. I raised my children with a flag in our front yard and love of country. It's too bad my beliefs were unfounded. Btw, thank you for the compliment.

  2. My Daughter, a soldier, contacted me in 2003 to inform me that she was pregnant, the father, another soldier, had gone to another duty station, and that she needed my help for a Family Care Plan to ensure her remaining in the Army. I left a 10 yr LTR to help her. The father stepped up, they married, made another child, and he left her once again, requesting a divorce.

    It was agreed that I would remain with her and the children until my demise. In 2008, after using my credit to build her own, and become homeowner worthy, she was sent once again to Korea. There she met and married another soldier. They returned in 2009 and I witnessed this man abuse my one Granddaughter, cheat numerous times on my daughter, and after threatening me many times, get away with the molestation of my other Granddaughter. He forced my Daughter into stating that I was incapable of caring for the children, and to let my ID and Family Plan lapse. (I believe the new documents were altered as in all the time I spent adjusting to military life and needs, I never saw a 1 yr plan).

    I was forced out of the home without any of my furnishings, or the ability to start over, as I had been bankrupted. I fought in court for my ability to stay connected to the children who had only been separated from me a total of 40 some days from 2003-2010. My heart was broken, and so were the children's until I was cut off altogether and left not knowing. I remain a guest on an old friend's sofa, as I have become Disabled and unable to resume employment due to my inability to sit, stand, or walk for extended periods.

    The family plan stated that I would be living with my Daughter until I died, but she has not even spoken to me since Nov. 23, 2010, when she dumped me at the airport. It is my understanding I have 2 additional Grandchildren that I am denied information about. All I want is contact with my soldier and the children I gave up everything for, including my IRA, auto, and any and all assets. Can Command make this happen? I've sent numerous cards, letters, emails, reminding her of the Army's 7 Values, that I feel she's forgotten, but I haven't. I may not have been active duty, but I feel I served above and beyond.

    1. Toni,

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation with this. I have never heard of such a sad story before. I hope you can patch up your relationship with your daughter and get to see your grandchildren in the near future. I suggest you talk with an attorney. As far as the Army side of things goes, I’m not sure what you can do since the mother has custody.


  3. My comment already posted. I suffer alone, through the holidays, as the years pass by. My partner of 10 yrs could not understand why I would go to another state to help my child remain a soldier and allow my child and Grandchild to basically live a normal life, by remaining in together in their own residence, instead of moving what became children around to suit the deployments. I thought the Army Valued Family, yet when I sought assistance from base command, chaplain, and even the DOD, I was turned away. My stepping forward and supporting my soldier, left me without a partner, in poverty, and homeless, not to mention missing the relationship I obviously shared with my Daughter, before the influence of this man, and the Grandchildren I adored. I am still in possession of supporting documents that have fallen on the desks of uncaring people. It’s sad.

  4. I agree with your other readers that it is wonderful that the military cares for its members, making formal arrangements for children to be cared for in the parent’s absence. Large corporations in the United States do not do the same. Granted, taking a long business trip is dramatically different from being deployed, but I know that when I worked for a large corporation, when an employee was told to travel out of town for training or for emergency relief work, there was absolutely no consideration given for having children. You were told to make the trip, and that was that.

  5. I am so glad that you posted this. It really brings to light the realities of being a soldier. No one lives forever but taking care of your family should never be shorted. A friend of mine is married to a man who loves to get deployed. He is rather gung-ho but I think he wants to get promotion as fast as possible. When he is away (sometimes for six months or more) she packs the kids and goes to her mother’s house in New York. I never really asked why since she’s allowed housing but I think it might be a financial thing. Is there some kind of incentive for doing that?

  6. I was researching the Family Care Plans (which I think are great, by the way) and found some statistics that you might find interesting. About 7.8 percent of all military members are single parents, which I can not imagine being deployed and having to leave my child in the care of someone else – but you do what you have to do! 10.7 percent are apart of the Army, 7.6 percent are of the Navy, 5.8 percent are from the Air Force, and 4.7 percent account for the Marine Corps. Additionally, there are about 84,000 military-married-to-military couples. About 36,000 of those couples have children.

    So you can imagine how many Family Care Plans are issued, in need of updating or review out there in the military.

    Being adopted I found this to be interesting as well: “Single members or one member of a military couple who adopt receive a 4-month deferment from the date the child is placed in the home as part of the formal adoption process.”

    1. Family Care Plans are a big deal. It’s important for Soldiers to have one and it’s equally important for the unit leaders to be involved in the process. It’s part of taking care of soldiers.

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