Family Care Plans assist Soldiers in providing for their qualifying dependent family members when their duties require them to be absent from home for a temporary or an extended period of time. Soldiers who must have a valid FCP include: a pregnant Soldier with no spouse, living apart from a spouse, or is married to another service member; a single or divorced Soldier with family members in the Soldierâ€™s care for more than 30 consecutive days; a Soldier whose spouse is disabled to the extent of requiring special assistance or care or is incapable of self care; or a Soldier who is married to another service member and has shared or full legal custody of one or more family members below the age of 19.
A Soldierâ€™s career can be negatively affected by the lack of a valid FCP. Awareness of the rules regarding the requirements can be beneficial to the Soldier, the commander and unit readiness.
Army Regulation 600-20, Army Command Policy, defines the purpose of a FCP as a way by which Soldiers provide a documented plan for care of their dependent family members when military duties may affect their ability to do so. Some examples are if a Soldier is required to conduct field exercises, duties, alerts, deployments or any other unit activities which would remove the Soldier from their primary care duties. The FCP, however, is not a legal document which would change any instructions which have been or will be court ordered.
Both the commander and the Soldier have individual responsibilities to complete documents which are part of a valid FCP. The commander must counsel the Soldier on the requirements of a FCP and cannot delegate this counseling responsibility to anyone.
The commander must also test the validity of the FCP once the Soldier submits the required documents. This validation includes contacting the designated guardian or guardians before the FCP can receive final approval or recertification.
If the commander finds a FCP to be invalid during validation, the Soldier will have 30 days from the finding to create a new and valid FCP. It is the Soldierâ€™s responsibility to provide a valid FCP within the timeframe allowed by AR 600-20, or by any extension authorized by the commander. Failure to provide a valid and accurate FCP can result in recommendations for separation and/or action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Due to the seriousness and career implications of failure to provide valid FCPs, thorough briefings should be given to qualifying service members by commanders and leaders in addressing the need for a FCP. These briefings ensure Soldiers are fully aware of the FCP requirements and are able to address issues before they become training distracters and negatively impact a Soldierâ€™s career.
For further information, contact the Inspector Generalâ€™s Office, 533.1144.