EFMP + Special Needs
Support for military families with special needs family members is provided through the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). Although each Service has its own EFMP, they all serve the same essential function: coordinating the assignment process to ensure special needs families are not sent to locations that lack adequate medical or educational resources. Installation EFMP programs offer support programs and provide families with information about and referral to local services. Enrollment in the EFMP is mandatory for active duty service members who have dependent family members with ongoing medical, mental health, or special educational needs.
The primary role of the EFMP is to prevent special needs military families from being sent to locations without adequate medical or educational services. As part of the assignment coordination process, personnel officials consult with medical and educational professionals at the proposed location to determine if a family’s needs can be met there. Typically, if the determination is made that the family’s needs cannot be met at an installation, another assignment will be found for the service member. Some special needs families choose to stay at their previous location and allow the service member to travel alone to the new assignment.
DOD policy allows (but does not require) the military Services to provide family support services specifically for exceptional family members at family centers on military installations with an EFMP. Available services vary among the military Services and from installation to installation. In some locations, EFMPs offer respite care and/or recreational programs that can accommodate family members with special needs. They may also provide information about local support groups, available advocacy services, and accessible housing. To find your installation EFMP office, check the Installation Program Directory at Military OneSource. Families can also call Military OneSource at 800.342.9647 and ask for a referral to a special needs consultant.
How to Enroll
Service members are required to enroll in the EFMP if they have a spouse, child, or other dependent family member in need of ongoing medical or educational services. To enroll, service members should complete and submit:
Military Services’ EFMP Resources
Special Needs Parent Toolkit, a comprehensive guide for parents on navigating medical and special education services, community support and benefits and entitlements.
The Education Directory for Children with Special Needs, a state-by-state guide to early intervention and special education services.