Raising a family in the military can be challenging, especially when one parent is absent for long periods of time. Armed Forces YMCA and the Department of Defense (DoD) saw the need for respite care by creating a military outreach initiative to provide spouses with temporary childcare during deployment.
What is respite care?
Respite care grants YMCA membership to offer momentary care of children—a time of rest and relaxation for the military spouse and service member. YMCA respite care is not to be confused with the respite care program for children with special needs which is headed by the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). Families eligible for respite care can receive up to 16 hours of childcare per month at participating facilities. The relief allows him/her to take a brief break, utilize the gym facilities, or use drop-off childcare to run errands.
Keep in mind: Every facility differs in the services available to parents. Always check the offers available with a YMCA representative.
Who is eligible?
- Service members and their families of Active Duty, Guard, and Reservists with Title 10 orders.
- Currently serving Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy.
- Children ages infant to twelve years of age. (You’ll want to check with the center to determine the age limits for infants.)
- The family must live outside of 30 miles of a military base child development center (CDC), where gym facilities are not accessible.
Qualifying for the Initiative
These are the four categories that grant gym membership and/or respite care. Respite care services for families fall under Categories Two and Three.
Category 1: Active Duty Independent Personnel
This category is for service members who are assigned to a temporary command location and do not have access to gym facilities.
Category 2: Unaccompanied Spouse/Family of Active Duty
This category is for the families of service members who have been deployed and are currently living in an area that does not have access to gym facilities.
Category 3: Unaccompanied Spouse/Family of Joint Deployed Guard and Reserve
This category is for the families of service members in the Guard or Reserve who have been deployed and care currently living in an area that does not have access to gym facilities.
Category 4: Community Based Warrior Transition Unit
This category is reserved for service members who have been injured in combat and are sent home for rehabilitation and recovery.
Applying for respite care
- Find the nearest participating YMCA location. Keep in mind: Participating facilities are voluntary. To be considered a provider for respite care, the childcare facility must go through approved licensing requirements. If your local YMCA does not provide services, they should be able to direct you to a location that does.
- Determine your eligibility and collect necessary documents. (Each category requires a specific set of documents.) Visit the application site for eligibility criteria. Receipt of your application may take up to 30 days.
- Submit a completed application by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not leave copies with the YMCA.
- Complete the respite care time template together with the facility point of contact (POC.) Templates should be submitted each calendar month.
More on YMCA Respite Care
- YMCA was founded in the U.S. in 1851, originally called the Young Men’s Christian Association, as a refuge from poverty.
- YMCA has since become a non-profit serving more than 10,000 neighborhoods nationwide. The purpose of the organization is to promote the social and physical health of youth and communities.
- There are more than 1,700 YMCA’s who support the initiative.
- The military outreach initiative has helped more than 157,000 military children.
- The program runs every year from April 1st to March 31st and is currently extended through the year.
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Cristina Van Orden is a literary writer and active military spouse. She holds an MFA from Antioch University and taught K-12 English before working in editorial. Cristina currently resides on base with her husband and children.