Army Family Programs are critical to the readiness of our Soldiers, particularly during times of deployment. The Army continues to invest in family well-being, which is also a strong recruiting and retention tool. The challenge is to provide flexible programs and services that encourage self-reliance and remain responsive to the changing needs of Soldiers and their families in an environment where high operational tempo, frequent deployments, and long separations create increased stress. Army Family Programs enhance mission readiness, and promote Soldier and family wellness.
Information, Referral, and Follow-up Program (IR&F)
The IR&F provides commanders, Soldiers and family members with a single point of contact for information regarding military and civilian community resources to assist with individual family and community concerns. It serves as a link between families and human service agencies that can assist them in solving social, economic, medical or educational concerns. By linking people with available and appropriate resources at the lowest cost, it avoids duplication of effort and enhances both military and community delivery systems.
Deployment and Mobilization Assistance
Support services are provided to eligible family members at or near their hometown or home installation during mobilization, deployments, contingency operations, and in emergencies (mass casualties, evacuations, and natural disasters). This support includes information and referral, emergency financial assistance, emergency food and shelter and crisis intervention. Commanders establish Family Readiness Groups (FRG) and Rear Detachments to provide information and administrative support during unit deployments. The FRG acts as a conduit for reliable information and refers families to appropriate community service agencies when necessary.
Army Community Service (ACS) personnel conduct predeployment briefings as part of Family Readiness Processing, interview Soldiers during readiness processing, and conduct training for Rear Detachments, FRG leaders, and Family Assistance Team members. The ACS Operation Resources for Educating About Deployment and You (OP R.E.A.D.Y) training program assists commanders in meeting family readiness objectives. This program trains and helps Soldiers and families succeed during deployments. ACS Centers also have video-teleconferencing equipment and internet-accessible computers making it easier and less costly for family members to communicate with Soldiers during deployments.
Family Assistance Centers, FRGs and Rear Detachments provide assistance to families, coordinate with state and local agencies, identify families with problems requiring additional support, provide orientations for Reserve component units and their families, and shift to a 24-hour family assistance operation if warranted.
Financial Readiness Program
The Financial Readiness Program helps commanders establish educational and counseling programs in personal financial affairs for Soldiers and families by teaching self-reliance, debt reduction, money management, credit and financial planning, and insurance and consumer issues.
Soldiers earn promotion points by completing selected ACS programs such as the new Parent Support Program, financial readiness training, OP R.E.A.D.Y. classes, and Army Family Team Building. These points help Soldiers advance their careers.
Family Advocacy Program (FAP)
The Army is committed to the prevention of spousal and child abuse and neglect by providing a variety of services to strengthen Army families and enhance resiliency. This proactive program is supported by a system of educational programs and procedures for identification, reporting, investigation, and treatment. Responsibilities for FAP are divided between ACS and Medical Treatment Facility staffs.
Army Spouse Employment Partnership (ASEP)
ASEP affords every Army spouse the opportunity to become employed by providing information and referral services for employment, education, training, transition, and volunteer opportunities. ASEP enhances career opportunities by creating partnerships with DOD, other Federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and private corporations, enabling Army spouses to pursue or continue their careers concurrently with those of their Soldiers.
Army Family Action Plan (AFAP)
The AFAP is a key resource that provides information to Army senior leaders on standard-of-living concerns, satisfactions, and expectations of Army constituents. The AFAP solicits well-being issues from Active and Reserve Component Soldiers, retirees, family members, and civilian employees via conferences convened annually at installation, major command, and Headquarters, Department of the Army levels. In conjunction with the AFAP, a General Officer Steering Committee (GOSC) meets semi-annually to review the progress of active AFAP issues. The GOSC is the final deciding authority for issues to be closed as resolved or unattainable.
Army Family Team Building (AFTB)
AFTB is a global educational program designed to improve readiness by teaching and promoting personal and family readiness. With 40-plus modules, it introduces families to the Army way of life, available services and programs, and sources of personal and professional development for spouses. The program is implemented at every active duty installation, in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, and is available on line.
Army One Source (AOS) Program
The AOS is an information and referral service that addresses topics ranging from everyday concerns to deployment and reunion issues. The AOS supplements existing family programs by providing a 24-hour, seven day a week toll-free information and referral telephone line and web-based service available to Active and Reserve Component Soldiers, deployed civilians, and their families worldwide. AOS will provide referrals to professional civilian counselors for counseling in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Outside the United States, face-to-face counseling is provided via Medical Treatment Facility services.
Relocation Readiness Program (RRP)
The RRP provides Soldiers, civilian employees, retirees, and their families before, during, and after relocation planning and guidance to reduce or eliminate relocation difficulties. Services include assessment and relocation counseling; prearrival information; lending closet of basic housekeeping items; post-move briefings; overseas orientations; cultural adaptation with language programs and outreach trips; guidance and referral to citizenship immigration services; and skills training/cultural mediation to assist multi-cultural families. Specialized services are available for “waiting families” who reside separately from the military and civilian sponsor. Special workshops and support group sessions are organized for identified “at risk” families to address methods of managing the emotional and situational stressors of relocation.
Child and Youth Services (CYS) Programs
Army CYS Programs consist of child development services, school age services, youth services, and CYS liaison, education, and outreach services. The delivery of predictable and consistent services to children ages 4 weeks to 18 years is a direct, mission-related necessity to an Army that is 52 percent married and has an additional 7.7 percent of Soldiers who are single parents. The goal is to support family selfreliance and reinforce Army values by providing quality programs that are available and affordable to Army families.
CYS programs offer safe and constructive environments that provide peace of mind to Soldiers during duty hours. Fees charged are governed by DOD directive and are based on family income. The Army is also implementing programs designed to meet the child and youth needs of geographically isolated and dispersed Soldiers who do not have access to installation-based CYS programs.
School transition is always a challenge in the mobile military lifestyle. CYS school liaison officers at each installation assist Soldiers with local school issues. The Secondary Education Transition individual Memorandums of Agreement (with about 150 signatories from local school districts as of Fiscal Year 2004) ensure that Army youth are not academically or socially disadvantaged when moving from one school district to another. The agreement facilitates the mutual development of reciprocal practices, acts as a conduit for information exchange between school systems, accelerates the exchange of emerging partnership opportunities, and will increase predictability of the high school experience for militaryconnected students.