Sgt. Mom-Sgt. Dad Can Be Challenge
Posted January 30, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
FORT BRAGG — The number of soldiers who are single parents is growing. Many of them don't have family support nearby, which can make long term child care decisions difficult.
Staff Sgt. Stephanie Garrett-Patton has her work cut out for her.
She's a single mom with three boys and a full-time job in the military.
She was deployed last year for nine months and was constantly concerned about her children here at home.
She worried about "how they were going to treat them, nurture them, give them the time I would give them if I were here."
Since 1990, the pecentage of single soldiers has grown from 4 percent to 5.6 percent.
Soldiers must have a written plan on where their children will go in the event of a deployment.
Garrett-Patton has out-of-state family she can depend on, but many soldiers don't.
Many single soldiers rely on home child care facilities.
Ivonne Sastre provides daycare and long-term care.
She recently kept a child for a year while the toddler's mother was in Korea. She says it can work when the child care provider and parent work in partnership.
"As a parent and as a caregiver, if I had to leave my child with anybody I'd want the best quality care for my child, the most loving atmosphere, that sense that it's somebody my child could be comfortable with, Sastre says."
Although it may take longer to develop a support system because of frequent moves, some single parents, including Specialist Justin Horn, have learned to rely on each other.
"I have certain people in my unit who will watch him if I have to go to a certain school for a couple of days," Horn says. "They'll step up and take my child for me."
There are 135 home child care providers, like Ivonne Sastre, supported through post.
Fifty are certified to provide overnight care. There is such a demand, Fort Bragg is trying to find even more to help.