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Mission: Family - Plan a fun summer with help from DoD, communities

Jun. 6, 2013 - 04:01PM   |  
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Looking to make the best of summer with your children? All sorts of programs are available on military installations and in civilian communities to help you.

For example, you can sign your child up for the Defense Department’s summer reading program, which offers incentives to encourage children to read.

Not only will children build on their reading skills and hopefully avoid losing any ground they gained in the classroom, but they can get involved in fun activities at their installation library, ranging from pizza-making and craft parties to storytelling events.

About 240 DoD installations worldwide have said they’ll be participating, said Nilya Carrato, program assistant for the Navy’s General Library Program. Activities will depend on the installation, so check with your installation’s library for more information and to register.

In some cases, the reading initiatives will be offered through child and youth programs. The library at Naval Station Sigonella, Italy, will launch a project where kids will be mailing Flat Stanley representations of the library staff to friends and family around the world, who will take pictures of themselves with Stanley in front of landmarks and other spots. That project is in line with this year’s theme, “Have Book, Will Travel!”

Children can earn prizes for reading, such as a new military challenge coin that features this year’s logo, with the “Have Book, Will Travel!” theme. The logo includes a drawing by Anna Dewdney, author and illustrator of the “Llama” children’s books.

Children racked up 13.2 million minutes of reading in 2012 through DoD’s summer program, up from 11.8 million minutes in 2011.

Another care option

If you’re looking for child care, special needs care, senior care, tutoring, pet care, housekeeping services and more, check out The company is offering a free, one-year premium membership to active-duty members and families stationed in the continental U.S. Visit by June 30 to register.

The premium membership allows families full access to the company’s database of caregivers in all 50 states and provides tools in its Safety Center to help make safe, informed decisions in the search process. You can search by ZIP code, service and provider’s pay rate. Preliminary background checks and recorded references are among the features. When offered free memberships last year, more than 8,800 military families signed up, the company said.

As with, a free service for military families that helps locate similar care in the civilian community, membership is free, but you pay for hiring the caregiver. memberships are provided year-round to military families, paid for by the Defense Department.

Karen Jowers is the wife of a military retiree.

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