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.

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Branch Resources with Handouts

Handouts can be branded with your Parent Center’s logo, contact information, edited for state specifics, etc.  Download the handouts directly from each article in the website.

Relocation for Military Families-PCS

Extended Care Health Option (ECHO)

Medicaid: Referring Families to Supports and Services

Help for Grandparents and Other Temporary Caregivers

Post-High School Transition Resource for Military Families

Scholarships Financial Resources for Military and Non Military Youth with Disabilities

16 Financial Resources for Military Families

Help Military Families Prepare Their Child’s School for Deployment

Resolve School Issues with the Interstate Compact

3 Training Resources for Parent Centers: for staff and families

The Military Families Learning Network (MFLN)is a project of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the US Department of Agriculture through the Cooperative Extension Service.

For Parent Centers: These items were selected for their usefulness for your staff development and your coworkers and as parent resources.

  1. Keys to Establishing Trust: Seven Attributes & Three Exercises for Providers

A thought-provoking set of training exercises on establishing trust with military families or indeed any family or individual.

Continue reading “3 Training Resources for Parent Centers: for staff and families”

Key Topics on the minds of military families

Feature your parent center’s information, training and resources on these topics to reach and assist military families:

  • State-specific Information
  • Moving and your child’s IEP
  • Community resources at your new duty station

Highlighting these three key areas using language familiar to military-connected families (“PCSing”) demonstrates your parent center’s knowledge of the issues they face.

Continue reading “Key Topics on the minds of military families”

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) is a mandatory* Department of Defense program that helps military dependents with special needs. The Coast Guard, which operates under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security has a similar program called the Special Needs Program, or SNP.

* EFMP is mandatory, primarily so a family member’s needs may be considered during the duty assignment process. However, some families do not enroll because they believe the program requirements are not worth the benefits to them, or they perceive the program as limiting the service member’s duty assignment options, and thus his or her career.

EFMP Family Support staff, along with an installation’s School Liaison, are the primary points of contact for parent centers for holding installation-based trainings, access to meet with families on installations, and insider information about installation support programs and family engagement.

Note: although the purpose of the EFMP and the SNP are the same across all branches of service, there are some differences with names, procedures, and forms. There are also differences by installation, such as the availability of respite care providers and funding.

EFMP Functions

  • Identification and enrollment is a collaborative effort among military-connected health care providers and EFMP staff:
    • Example: a child is identified as having a particular disability by the family’s regular medical provider who refers the family to the EFMP enrollment office.
  • Military duty assignment coordination: once a family member is enrolled in the program, future duty assignments for the military service member are considered in the light of that family member’s medical or educational needs.
    • For example, if a child is enrolled in EFMP due to the need for speech and occupational therapy, the service member’s projected duty station will be screened to see if these services are available.

Notes: although the family member’s needs are considered in the assignment process, military requirements take priority for assignment decisions and there are no guarantees that services and supports are available at a new duty location.

The EFMP assignment process does not consider the availability of educational instruction, supports and services under an IEP as part of the assignment process, only military benefits and programs such as medical coverage, respite care, ABA therapy, mental health care and the like. It is also clear that a service being “available” does not mean the family won’t encounter a waiting list for these services, or providers who are no longer taking clients or patients.

  • Family Support: this is the EFMP function which directly serves EFMP families and is the most common point of contact for parent centers. Staff are civilians who work for the military. Contact information for EFMP Family Support is available on our Interactive Maps.
    • Provides non-medical case management
    • Assists with navigating the Department of Defense medical, transport, legal, and counseling systems.
    • Provides information about local civilian services and supports
    • May arrange support groups, classes, and family events for the benefit of EFMP families assigned to their installation.
    • On some installations, EFMP Family Support may also provide access and financial support for respite care.

Who is eligible for EFMP?
Active duty personnel with family members who have special health* or educational needs may be eligible. National Guard and Reserve personnel with family members who have special health or educational needs may be eligible during the time period when the service member is called for active federal duty. For EFMP ROC (below), National Guard and Reserve family members may have a consultation without their service member being called to active duty.

                *requiring specialized care beyond the level of their general practitioner

Getting enrolled in EFMP:

Enrollment typically begins with the family member’s health care provider. This can be either the primary care manager or a specialty care provider that is military-connected. For additional information regarding the EFMP, families can contact EFMP coordinators, EFMP liaisons, EFMP system navigators, or family resources coordinators depending on their branch of service. Coast Guard parents may contact a Family Special Needs Case Management Officer.

Getting the most benefit from EFMP

It’s important for families to contact the current installation’s EFMP Family Support Office in these situations:

  • To update the child’s EFMP file every three (3) years
  • The parent has new medical or educational information about their child
  • The service member is assigned to a new duty station (PCS) to make certain that paperwork on the Exceptional Family Member is up-to-date and to facilitate services and supports through the new duty station’s EFMP Family Support office.
  • Transportation needs for their child or youth enrolled in EFMP
  • Issues with military services and supports, or expected services and supports are not available
  • Finding resources at the state and local levels (including parent centers!)
  • Accessing state and federal benefits for which the Exceptional Family Member may be eligible

Find contact information for EFMP Family Support staff on our Interactive Maps, or contact the Branch for assistance.

EFMP online and by phone for families:

EFMP Navigation Checklist Tool EFMP & ME -“EFMP & Me is here to help you effectively navigate through the Department of Defense’s vast network of services and support for families with special needs.”

EFMP ROC program

EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations” (EFMP ROC) is a new program that provides military families who have members with special health or educational needs with enhanced services.  Special needs consultants are available by appointment, via phone or video at no cost, and there is no limit to the number of appointments families can make.

  • Supplements installation-based EFMP Family Support
  • Highly useful for remote families such as National Guard and Reserve. The service member does not need to be called to active duty for these families to use EFMP ROC.
  • Extended-hour appointments add convenience
  • Can be used for cross-referrals to EFMP Family Support when a family plans a move to a new installation

Families can ask for assistance with:

  • Exploring education options
  • Special Education-will refer families to Parent Training and Information Centers (new!)
  • Healthcare and TRICARE (military) programs for individuals with disabilities
    • -including local medical care and services—with the support of a dedicated TRICARE specialist
  • Federal and state benefits for individuals with disabilities
  • Connecting to military and other child care, support groups, in-home care, and deployment support options
  • Special needs trusts and estate planning
  • Referrals to legal help for disability issues

Military families can connect with EFMP-ROC through Military OneSource or by calling 1-800-342-9647.  Appointments can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Consultants have extended (evening) hours for appointments.

2 Quick Resources for Military Families Moving Overseas

Military parents whose children have disabilities may have concerns about moving their child from a stateside school (public or Department of Defense) to a school in another country where their school options are limited and laws protecting individuals with disabilities are not the same. Here are two quick resources for these parents to give them a jump-start on their research and decision-making:

Military Children Transitioning into the DoDEA School System (podcast from the Military Child Education Coalition, with Dr. Dell W. McMullen, Europe Director for Student Excellence, Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)

Department of Defense Directory on Early Intervention, Special Education and Related Services in OCONUS Communities (“OCONUS” – Outside the Continental United States)

And here is some more in-depth information about Department of Defense Education Activity schools and Special Education:

Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) School System

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