Helping Military Families Receive Early Intervention Services

Although all parents of children with disabilities need accurate and timely information, parents of children age birth to three have a narrow time frame to get interventions. With so many differences in lead agencies, family copays, and eligibility for EIS state to state, highly mobile military families have a crucial need for information in advance of a move.

Here’s a list of useful resources that can help all families, civilian or military, moving to or from your state.

The following resources can supplement your state or local resources on early intervention:

Because of the overall title on Military OneSource (“Education Directory for Children with Special Needs”), military parents with no knowledge of IDEA may not ever look at this resource for their infant or toddler. The EIS Directory is part of this resource with no separate title, making it difficult to find if you are unfamiliar with early intervention. The link goes directly to the Early Intervention Directory.

The US Army Medical Department provides this website; the process is the same across all branches of service. This site lists EDIS locations and links to installation EDIS programs.

A warm referral from your center to the parent center in the state to which the family is moving can be very helpful and set the stage for success. Find Your Parent Center can be invaluable in that referral.

Reaching out to families:

  • Add the resources above to your center’s “military family” page on your website
    • Parent centers collaborated on these templates for a military family website page and handout
  • Add the resources to your website’s resources list
    • You can add tags like “military”, military families”, “moving”, “relocating” and “PCS” (permanent change of station, the military’s term for a move to a new duty station). Military families often use these keywords when searching for information online.
  • Highlight your new military family friendly EIS resources in your social media and your newsletter.

Parents of children receiving EIS may need parent center help in the future. We all share information with one another.  Military families tell one another which programs and organizations are military friendly. Using appropriate tags and publicizing these resources adds another quick way to help military families relocating to or moving from your state.

Military Early Intervention System

Military families may live on or near installations where there are Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, which are in a few US states and territories and at installations other countries. Just as DoDEA administers special education in DoDEA schools, Department of Defense runs its own Early Intervention program in these locations. It’s called “Educational and Developmental Intervention Services” (EDIS). EDIS operates under DoD regulations that brings DoD practices in line with (but not identical to) IDEA.

Department of Defense Handbook on Early Intervention and Special Education

More information on DoDEA Schools

  • The EDIS process begins with referrals from either the parents or a military medical provider, and proceeds like EIS in a state system. Services are contracted through the military but frequently provided by civilians.
  • Eligibility for EDIS services is the same across all EDIS locations and all branches of service—which is why moving from EDIS to a state-provided system can be confusing for such families. EDIS services are at no cost to the family, which can be another difference from the state systems. Regulations also allow flexibility around the third-birthday transition date, to accommodate a service member’s relocation. (This only works if the family is moving from one “EDIS-system” installation to another).
  • EDIS and state EIS systems are not “siloed” from one another. In the US, EDIS programs may refer families to EIS programs at local or county levels, when the service member is assigned to DoDEA-EDIS installation but lives far enough away that their residence isn’t in the DoDEA school district.
  • Military EDIS program training materials for providers can be found in the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) repository and reveal that that EDIS training and processes align with best practices in the early intervention community.