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When do I need a Family Care Plan? Requirements, consequences explained

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Email   Print   Share By Sgt. 1st Class Arethra Glenn, Asst. IG, III Corps
June 24, 2010 | News
I had a Soldier ask, “Can my commander chapter me out on a Family Care Plan?” My initial response was, yes, but it depends. Every situation is different. There have been many instances where Soldiers have requested to be separated from the Army for lack of a Family Care Plan. Army Regulation 600-20, Army Command Policy, chapter 5-5, gives the requirements for a Family Care Plan and AR 635-200, Active Duty Enlisted Administrative Separations, chapter 5-8, cover the separation procedures.

First, let’s talk about the requirement for a Family Care Plan.

AR 600-20 is specific on who is required to have an active Family Care Plan. The most common are single Soldiers and dual military couples (signed by both servicemembers) with dependents; also pregnant Soldiers (not later than 90 days because of the expected due date) who do not have a spouse or are married to another servicemember, are required to maintain a Family Care Plan. Soldiers with adult family members incapable of taking care of themselves may also require a plan.

Family Care Plan counseling is done on DA Form 5304. Commanders may designate an authorized representative to conduct the counseling, but the commander must be the approving authority for the DA 5305 (Family Care Plan); this will not be delegated. Soldiers are given 30 days from the date of counseling to complete a Family Care Plan, but they may be given an additional 30 days depending on the circumstances. A Soldier is considered non-deployable until a Family Care Plan is validated and approved by the commander. Additionally, a commander can give a shorter suspense due to the urgency or nature of a deployment.

The DA Form 5305 is not a legal document that can change a court order, nor can it interfere with a parent’s right to custody of his/her child. For Army purposes, its sole reason is to document who will care for the Soldier’s family members when the Soldier is unavailable due to mission requirements. It will include proof that guardians have been briefed on their responsibilities as a care provider. It will confirm the guardians agreed to provide care and were provided all legal documentation to do so. It also includes proof that the Soldier obtained consent from the guardian(s). At a minimum, proof consists of the following attachments to DA 5305:

• DA Form 5841 (Power of Attorney)

• DA Form 5840 (Certificate of Acceptance as Guardian or Escort)

• DD Form 1172 (Application for Uniformed Services Identification Card-DEERS Enrollment)

• DD Form 2558 Authorization to Start, Stop, or Change an Allotment

• Letter of instruction to the guardian

• If appropriate, DA Form 7666 (Parental Consent)

It is the Soldier’s responsibility to implement and maintain a valid Family Care Plan, therefore ensuring their family members are adequately cared for. Soldiers must use the utmost care and consideration when selecting guardians to care for their family member(s). Guardians should be a person to whom the Soldier would have no reservations entrusting the welfare of their family member(s) to and should be able to care for them over extended periods of time, if necessary. It is the Soldier’s responsibility to ensure that guardians are aware of their responsibility and to thoroughly brief them on arrangements, location of all necessary documents, procedures for accessing military facilities, services, entitlements and benefits to properly care for family member(s). Guardians should be made aware that these entitlements are not for their personal use. The DA Form 5305 can be implemented at any time a situation arises that warrants it.

It is not required, but recommended that married Soldiers, not otherwise required doing so by AR 600-20, complete and maintain a Family Care Plan. It assists the spouse, commander, rear detachment commander, Family Assistance Center, or next of kin provide care for family members in the event the spouse is unable to do so.

A commander can separate a Soldier under the provisions of AR 635-200, chapter 5-8, involuntary separation due to parenthood. This chapter states, “Soldiers will be considered for involuntary separation when parental obligations interfere with fulfillment of military responsibilities.” It says that they will be considered for involuntary separation; not that the commander has to chapter a Soldier. It is the Commander’s responsibility to ensure that adequate counseling and rehabilitative measures are taken before initiating separation proceedings. When the Soldier’s conduct or performance becomes unacceptable, or in this case fails to provide adequate documentation to complete the Family Care Plan, the commander will ensure that the Soldier is formally notified. At a minimum, one formal counseling is required before separation proceedings are initiated. In addition, there must be evidence that the deficiency still exists after the counseling. Specific reasons for separation include:

• Inability to perform duties in a satisfactory manner.

• Repeatedly absent.

• Repeatedly tardy.

• Not able to participate in field exercises or other duties (i.e., CQ or SD).

• Unavailable for world-wide assignment or deployment.

Again, the separation process cannot be started until the Soldier has been adequately counseled on his/her deficiencies and has been afforded time to correct the deficiency. Each situation is unique with different factors that will help the commander to determine which course of action to take.

For more information, reference AR 600-20, Army Command Policy, chapter 5-5, consult your legal assistance office, or the local inspector general. As always, we’re here to help.
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