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Give Parents a Break offers free monthly respite care

Courtesy graphic

Courtesy graphic

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Active-duty families facing a member deployment, family crisis or unique hardship can take a few hours once a month to recharge, go on a date, clean the house or just have a little "me/us time" thanks to the Give Parents a Break respite care program.

The program, held monthly at the Schriever Child Development Center, provides four hours of care for children of active-duty parents facing exceptional hardships.

"It's something for parents to take a little respite care because life is hard sometimes" said Andrea Hernandez, Airman and Family Readiness Center director.

To take advantage of the program, parents must first get a referral certificate. Referrals can be obtained from a member's squadron commander or first sergeant, the base chaplain, a doctor or other medical professional, Family Advocacy, the A&FRC or the CDC.

"There's a multitude of people who can make the reference," said Mary Barkley, 50th Force Support Squadron flight chief.

According to the Air Force Aid Society, eligible members include those active-duty families "where a parent is feeling stress due to: the military member being deployed, on an extended temporary duty assignment or on a remote tour of duty, a family crisis or emergency, having a child with special needs or unique circumstances or hardships."

Determination of whether a referral is warranted for unique circumstances is made on a case-by-case basis by the referring official. In addition to the referral, the referring officer may be able to provide additional resources to help the family.

"If they're having a hard time, just that four hours of care is not going to solve that problem," Hernandez said. "A lot of times we can give them another resource in addition to that time."

AFAS funds the program enabling the care to be provided free of charge for parents.

"I think having it free of cost is really helpful to families because they're already going through enough stress and maybe it's stemming from a financial reason," Barkley said. "It's immediate, temporary relief to a situation that somebody may be dealing with."

Once the referral certificate, which is valid for three months, is in hand, parents need to register their child(ren) at the CDC. Parents whose child(ren) are already enrolled at the CDC need only to bring the certificate with them to register. Those whose children aren't enrolled may still sign up for GPAB, but will need to fill out some extra paperwork.

"In order to sign up for GPAB, the patrons will need to come into the program with a signed voucher, a current immunization record and all shots must be up to date to include a current flu shot," said Jessica Parks, CDC director. "When they come in with this information we will have them fill out the enrollment paperwork on the spot if they do not already have paperwork on file."

A minimum of eight children must be registered by the deadline, typically the Wednesday before the scheduled date for GPAB, for an event to proceed. Due to a lack of registration, Schriever hasn't been able to hold GPAB in more than a year.

"There's so much attention to taking care of your wingman, well this is part of it," Barkley said. "We feel that the program is highly underutilized here and we strongly encourage the first sergeants and commanders [to make referrals]. If people are under stress, they need to know this program is available and if we don't get the minimum eight children, we don't have the program."

The next event is scheduled 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. March 12.

For more information, contact the A&FRC at 567-3920 or the CDC at 567-4742.
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