Webinar: What the Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs (OSN) and Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) do for Military Families

In case you haven’t seen it: The Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs (OSN) and the Department of Defense Education Activity share what their offices do, and how they support your work with military families. It is a great introduction to key military programs, and helpful whether you are new to your Parent Center, new to working with military families, or are a seasoned professional.  Continue reading “Webinar: What the Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs (OSN) and Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) do for Military Families”

Interstate Compact Presentation by the Military Interstate Compact Commission (MIC3)

Interstate Compact Military Presentation by Rick Masters, General Counsel for MIC3, the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission.  Includes Question and Answer session about this important legal protection for military-connected children in public schools K-12.  Includes a handout for military parents.

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Restraint & Seclusion Laws for Each State

When working with military families, here is a helpful resource to share with those who may have concerns about restraint and seclusion in their State or one to which their family may be relocated.  It gives specific information for each State.

U.S. Department of Education Restraint & Seclusion policies by State (external link).

Another resources which has been recommended by several Parent Centers is available through The Autism National Committee (Autcom.org):  How Safe is the Schoolhouse?  (external link). This resource is updated through July, 2019.


What Does a Parent Center Do?

Federally funded Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) are found in every State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Large States have more than one PTI.   In addition, thirty federally funded Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) focus on unserved or underserved populations throughout the United States and territories. Together, the PTIs and CPRCs (collectively referred to as Parent Centers) can play a vital role in supporting your work with Exceptional Family Members in your communities. The following information is a quick fact sheet on what a federally funded Parent Center is required to do through their grants and some suggestions on how you can utilize them effectively.

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Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children was created to provide a smooth transition for military children as their families relocate from installation to installation. “While the Compact is not exhaustive in its coverage, it does address the key issues encountered by military families: eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation” (NCSL, 2014). The Compact has been created with the hope that students will not lose academic time in transition, obtain an appropriate placement, and be able to graduate on time. Currently, all 50 states and District of Columbia participate in the Compact. Continue reading “Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children”

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.
  1. Refer the family to the benefit guide for National Guard families at Military OneSource: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/national-guard/national-guard-family-program/benefits-guide

Benefit examples:

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 were getting medical care through 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 plans for National Guard members to make decisions about their coverage. Reserve plans carry a premium 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).

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 their military family member 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 the non-deployed parent.

  1. Refer them to the Family Assistance Coordinator in their state for referrals to the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) and for assistance with eligibility for TRICARE benefits, such as ABA therapy. Contact and location information for the FACs are on the Interactive Maps.

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 Family Assistance 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 the family.  Contact information for your state’s Family Assistance Center is on our Interactive MAPs, by state.

  1. Connect with the Family Assistance Coordinator in your state so they can refer National Guard families to your parent center. They want to know what Parent Centers can offer and they will help you reach out to National Guard families. Contact and location information for the FACs are on the Interactive Maps.

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.

Information on TRICARE’s Extended Care Health Option (ECHO)

Customizable handout on military families and Medicaid

In Conclusion:

Once you know a family is with the National Guard it’s easy to refer them to military benefits and assistance 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 Coordinator, feel free to contact us at the Branch: thebranch@wapave.org

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Regulations, Manual published for EIS and Special Education in Dept. of Defense Schools

Prior to June 2015, Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools operated under IDEA 1997 in providing Early Intervention and Special Education services.  In June 2015 Department of Defense issued a new instruction (regulation) and a manual  (external links) based on the provisions of IDEA 2004.  While this change may eliminate many of the differences between public schools and DoDEA schools with regard to Special Education, the new regulations are not yet interpreted, and some DoDEA schools may not have fully implemented the changes.  When an interpretation of the new regulations is issued, allowing comparison between DoDEA and public school provision of Special Education, we will announce it and make it available.


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