Extension News: Family child care homes serving military families
Family child care home providers who care for military children can have a big responsibility for the children in their care beyond the normal hours of child care, particularly in the case when both parents are military or in the case of a single military parent. If military parents unexpectedly have to work very late into the night or report for duty very early in the morning, they may call the family child care home provider to see if their children can stay overnight. The provider may have to alter their plans for the evening in order to provide the care that is needed.
For dual military families or for a single military parent, a family care plan must in place regarding the care of the children, especially when parents are deployed or go on temporary duty assignments. If both parents are on assignments away from the home at the same time, the family child care provider may be the person who cares for the children until a relative, often coming from out of state, can arrive to care for the children. Such is the case when the provider is designated as the short-term care giver.
However, if the military family does not have anyone else to care for their children while they are deployed or are on assignment, then the family child care home provider may become the long-term care giver for the entire time that the parents are away. This care could be in place for a whole year depending on the length of the assignment for the single parent or the dual military parents. The provider then becomes both the child care provider and the substitute parent for the children during this time. This means that this is the person who is called to the school in case of an emergency, takes the children to the doctor, takes the children to extracurricular activities, and comforts the children when they miss their parents. The children become a part of the child care provider’s own family. Additionally, the provider would have power of attorney in order to make medical and other decisions regarding the children while the parents are away.
Trust becomes an important part of the relationship between the parents and the childcare provider. It is key for the military parents to know that the childcare provider can offer the care needed for their children in their absence, especially when they are serving out of the country.
In Harnett County, family childcare homeowners who provide care for military children are now meeting every other month to offer support for one another. The group is being facilitated by Harnett County Child Care Resource & Referral. To find out more about the support group or for the next meeting date and location, please call Child Care Resource & Referral at (910) 893-7530.
Nancy Lee is Program Coordinator, Harnett County Cooperative Extension-Child Care Resource & Referral.