In recent years our education system has been compared to other countries, which didn’t pan out to well for the American student. Struggling to complete globally, the U.S. government has decided changes need to take place. These changes have come fast and without much preparation, thus confusing education staff, parents and even the students on what is expected. One particular student who will also be affected with these changes is the special needs military child.
We already know the difficulties families in the military face, and one of the most difficult factors is the move from one base to another. For any military child, leaving one base for another means leaving behind friends, but also making new friends. It also means leaving one school district and entering a new district with many times being in a new state. Many parents with a child with disabilities may not know what help is out there or where to turn to for that help, so let’s take a look at some important resources that can help.
Just like us veterans, military children with disabilities also have rights. IDEA is one such law that grants these rights.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law created to make sure children with disabilities is provided services pertaining to early intervention, special education and other related services. Check out http://idea.ed.gov/ for more in-depth information.
As mentioned before, military children are as mobile as their parent who serves in uniform. Thankfully the Department of Education recognizes this. Back in July 2013 the Department of Education sent out a mass letter to all State Directors of Special Education speaking about the importance of working with highly mobile children such as military kids, because it is a law thanks to IDEA. To read that letter check out http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/12-0392dclhighlymobile.pdf
Another key benefit for military parents is Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) which is covered by all branches of the military. Be sure to check with the Family Support Center on your duty station or moving to, for further information. If given the time, be sure contact the appropriate offices for your next duty assignment as soon as possible before you arrive.
Here is a list of the EFMP website for your military branch
ARMY – EFMP
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)
Air Force – EFMP
Coast Guard – EFMP
Marines – EFMP
Navy – EFMP
Military Once source has a great amount of information pertaining to the Exceptional Family Member Program, education information as well as other information for the sake of supporting military parents. There is no shame in asking for help, and services that are offered should be ready to be provided. Below are two links from Military One Source that have key information pertaining to services that you may not have known existed.
Education directory for Children with Special Needs
Overview of each state’s special education system and also info on scholarships, which could help families with financial support.
Whether in or out of the classroom, military children with disabilities have guaranteed rights. Military parents should have a feeling of comfort knowing that support and resources are out there to provide them with giving their child the best opportunities to grow and develop. Although programs and support is out there as we looked at, more support is needed in our communities so we can truly give children with disabilities even more opportunities to become leaders of tomorrow.