Special Needs

Over 100,000 military families have members with special needs. These include spouses, children, or dependent parents who require special medical or educational services. Military families with special needs children face additional challenges to military life. For these families, transitioning to a new duty station or weathering yet another deployment can often be daunting. The following programs, toolkit, and transition check list are designed to help special need families:


Individualized Education Program (IEP)

A written document articulating a pupil's present educational level, specific services to be provided, behavioral interventions to be employed, language and communication needs of the child, and the child's need for assistive technology. The Individualized Education Program also sets out goals to be attained and specifies how the goals will be evaluated. The IEP focuses on ensuring, to the greatest extent possible, student access to the general curriculum.


Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)

A military program that identifies active duty military families with a member who has special medical needs and/or special educational needs. The program seeks to ensure that there are suitable services available for family members within their region. The EFMP provides the following services:

  • Assists families in identifying available services at their next assignment.
  • Confirms the availability of medical and educational support at oversees locations.
  • Identifies the need for assignment within major medical areas.

A copy of the Exceptional Family Member Special Education/Early Intervention Summary Form is available online.


Specialized Training of Military Parents (STOMP)

The only National Parent Training and Information Center for military families. STOMP provides support and advice to military parents of children with special needs who often have feelings of isolation and anxiety, difficulty navigating disjointed services, severe financial worries, and inadequate information. While all military families face certain challenges such as frequent PCS moves, military member being placed in harm's way, and deployments, families with special needs children face additional difficulties.


The Special Needs Parent Toolkit

Put together by the Department of Defense (DoD) Military Community and Family Policy (MCFP). It contains comprehensive information and tools that are geared toward helping military families with special needs children navigate the maze of special education services, medical services, community support, and benefits and entitlements. For military families wanting to learn more about early intervention services or how to become a more effective advocate for their child, click here to access the toolkit.


Transition Checklist for Military Families with Special Needs Students

For military families preparing to transition with a special needs student, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) has provided an extremely helpful checklist of things to do before you leave your current duty station:

  • Contact your local special education counselor/director and request assistance as to what should be done before the transition to the new school. Write or contact the special education director for the district that you are going to and request local policies.
  • Schedule an Annual Review and Dismissal (ARD) meeting to discuss the progress your child has made since your last Individualized Education Program (IEP) review. Ask for written suggestions that may help your child and the staff at the new school.
  • Request a copy of your child's complete educational record to include a copy of the latest IEP. Hand carry all records, samples of your child's work, and other information related to your child's education.
  • Contact your local Special Needs Identification Program (SNIP) Coordinator who can assist you with identifying resources at your new duty station.
  • Be sure to take any special equipment and refill medication prescriptions your child may need for the next few months.
  • Contact the School Liaison Officer to assist with transitioning your child to the new school.

The Department of Defense website, MilitaryHOMEFRONT, offers the most comprehensive information designed specifically for military families with special needs.

In addition, military families with special needs are encouraged to contact Military OneSource

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