6 Ways Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Is Taking Care of Families

coast guardsman and child outside
(DaVonte Marrow/DVIDS)

Recognizing the struggles Coast Guard families are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) announced six new programs to help.

These programs will assist with rising costs that Coast Guard families face for child care, help replace the lost wages of spouses and more.

In an email, Education Services Specialist Erica Chapman said, "There is a disproportionate economic impact on junior enlisted members who already operate household budgets with slim margins, sometimes including support from the SNAP or WIC benefits."

[The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the largest federal nutrition assistance program. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children offers benefits to low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding moms and children under the age of five.]

Based on the latest Blue Star Families Military Family Life Survey, almost two-thirds of military families have financial stressors, and that was before the pandemic.

CGMA CEO Cari Thomas, a retired Coast Guard rear admiral, said in a statement, "We are delighted to introduce these programs, as Coast Guard members are arriving at new duty stations and navigating a new school year for their children."

Here are the ways CGMA is prepared to help families:

1. Child Care Grant of $500. This grant gives families the opportunity to offset some of the costs of child care for dependents through age 12.

2. In-Person Tutoring Grant Up to $1,000. For families who need help with tutoring beyond the online options available through CGMA, this program will help parents of students from pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade with in-person tutoring costs.

3. Supplemental Special Needs Grant Up to $1,000. For families with special needs members, this grant helps offset costs for services or equipment, which may be harder to find during the pandemic.

4. Extension of Supplemental Education Grant Up to $500. The previously established educational grant program is extended to support at-home and virtual learning. Receipts dated 1 August through 1 November will be accepted.

5. Child Care Loans Up to $6,000. The demand for child care is high, and families may need help with school-aged children, as well. This is an extension of a program already in existence.

6. Lost Wages Loans up to $6,000. For spouses who may not qualify for unemployment or who are waiting for unemployment benefits, up to two months of salary may be available.

Through the end of July, CGMA has provided $890,000 in assistance to families to help with COVID-19-related expenses. Due to the higher need of junior enlisted families (those with a rank of E-6 and below), 60% of the assistance has gone to them.

Through these additional programs, CGMA is prepared to give up to $5 million to families. All previously announced programs related to the pandemic -- including storage costs, quarantine costs and funeral expense assistance -- are still available.

Coast Guard families who need assistance, want more information or want to donate to the program can do so online.

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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at rebecca.alwine@monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

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