Are Your Children Ready for Deployment?

What to consider in your Family Care Plan

A sudden deployment affects the entire family. Not only will you have to prepare for your mission, you also will have to make sure your spouse is prepared to take on all of the parenting responsibilities alone. If you are a single parent or part of a dual-service family, you may have to arrange for someone else to care for your children and budget for all the expenses that go along with that care.

The military requires all single active-duty servicemembers and dual-service couples with children to prepare a Family Care Plan that outlines who will care for their children while away on duty, as well as what provisions servicemembers have made for their children’s care and support.

To help you formulate a Family Care Plan, consider what child care or living expenses may arise because of your absence.

Helping Your Spouse

If you are married and your spouse is a civilian or is not deployed at the same time, he or she may be able to care for your children. Even if you already use child care or your children are in school all day, there may be additional expenses while you are away. Think about how your family works. It’s likely that the two of you—together or separately—perform such tasks as:

  • Looking after the children
  • Buying groceries and making meals
  • Cleaning the home and taking care of the garden or lawn
  • Repairing small items
  • Handling all the jobs that come with family life
  • Transporting the children to and from various activities

While you are deployed, all of these jobs will fall—rather heavily—on your spouse’s shoulders. He or she may be balancing a job in addition to new or expanded roles at home.

Consider setting some money aside to help with costs, such as:

  • Additional baby-sitting, summer camps or similar activities so the solo parent can have "recovery" time.
  • Additional meals at restaurants to give the solo parent a break from cooking.
  • Hiring help for house cleaning, lawn care, repairs, or other jobs you usually perform.

Arranging Care for Your Children

If you have children and are single, or you have children and are married but your military spouse is being deployed at the same time, you must arrange for someone else to care for your children.

In conversations with potential caregivers or guardians, openly discuss typical costs of raising your children, proposed child care payments, and how you will handle unexpected child care costs the caregiver or guardian might incur. Also, consider carefully how your children's lives will be affected by a new living arrangement. Here are some things to think about before you begin your search for a caregiver or guardian:

  • Does the caregiver live nearby or would the children have to travel to another area?
  • Will you pay the caregiver to look after your children?
  • Will your children have additional expenses while living with the caregiver? For example, would your children have to take a bus to school instead of walking? Will they need to buy lunches instead of bringing ones from home?

A little preparation and a realistic budget will make your deployment easier on your family and provide you peace of mind while you’re away.

More information on how to manage the financial impact of PCS moves and deployments is available.