4 Ways Parent Centers Can Help National Guard Families


Most National Guard members are part-time military, and receive civilian services when their child has a disability.  They might not identify themselves as National Guard families to Parent Center staff.  Sometimes they don’t know about military benefits that could help their situation. These four tips will help you direct families to all the resources for which they are eligible.

  1. Ask parents if they and/or their spouse are a member of the military.
  2. Bookmark the link to the Benefits Guide for National Guard and Family Members: https://www.jointservicessupport.org/FP/BenefitsGuide.aspx (external link).

Use it as a reference and resource to share with parents.

  1. Refer them to the Family Assistance Specialist in their area.

Benefits differ depending on the service member’s status- whether or not they are on active federal duty.  The changes in benefits can be challenging to negotiate. The National Guard provides trained, locally-based specialists in every state to help Guard families. The Coordinator at the Family Assistance Center can provide the name and phone numbers for the Specialists best placed to help that family. Get contact information for your State’s Family Assistance Center on your Region’s Interactive Map or contact the Branch:  thebranch@wapave.org.

  1. Connect with the Family Assistance Coordinator in your State so that they can refer National Guard families to you.

They want to know what Parent Centers can offer and they will help you reach out to National Guard families. Get contact information for your State’s Family Assistance Center on your Region’s Interactive Map or contact The Branch:  thebranch@wapave.org.

Example 1:

A National Guard family has a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder who is receiving Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy. The family is paying out-of-pocket for ABA. If they had signed up for TRICARE, their child’s therapy would be covered under the TRICARE Autism Demonstration Project with minimal cost-shares.

When Guard members join, they and their families are encouraged to compare civilian health care benefits with TRICARE Reserve Select* to make decisions about their coverage. Reserve Select is a premium-based plan, and some National Guard families decide to go with civilian employer-paid health coverage. They may not revisit that decision, even when family circumstances change (such as having a baby who later requires ABA therapy).

  • What Parent Center Staff can do: inform the family that they may have ABA coverage if they sign up for TRICARE, and that they may want to reconsider the costs and benefits of TRICARE coverage.  Refer them to the Benefits Guide, and to their Family Assistance Specialist, who can provide details and give individualized advice.

Example 2:

Another family has been on a Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver waiting list for some time to receive respite care for their home bound child. They may not know that if Dad is activated, they can enroll in the Exceptional Family Member Program, join a TRICARE** plan and apply for TRICARE Extended Care Health Option (ECHO).  ECHO offers up to 40 hours per month of respite care through its Home Health Care program in addition to other benefits.  This can be a lifesaver for Mom while Dad is away.

  • Parent Center Staff can refer the family to their Family Assistance Specialist.
  • For downloadable parent handouts to which you can add your Parent Center’s logo, open these Google Drive links:
        ECHO Parent Handout

              Military Families and Medicaid Parent Handout

In Conclusion:

Once you know a family is with the National Guard it’s easy to refer them to benefits using these tips. If you need more information about National Guard family benefits, how benefits change when the service member goes on active duty, or connecting with a Family Assistance Specialist, feel free to contact us at the Branch: https://branchta.org/contact/

 *National Guard members who are Select Reserve, as a part of the Ready Reserve, are eligible for TRICARE Reserve Select. In practice this category includes most Guard members except the Individual Ready Reserve. A Guard member and his or her family will know their status in the Reserve.

**Information on TRICARE options for National Guard Members and their families is available on our TRICARE videos page, or on the TRICARE National Guard and Reserves page.

For a PDF version of this document, please contact us at thebranch@wapave.org or by calling 253.565.2266, ext. 112