Military Offers Resources for Families of Children with Special Needs

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report
reviewing child care programs for children with special needs who are
also children of military personnel. The report did not offer
recommendations but found that despite the Department of Defense's
efforts to coordinate services, each branch of the military uses a
different definition of "special needs child care," and that child care
services vary widely depending on the base.

Despite
the GAO's findings, when it comes to child care the military generally
tries to help families with special needs in a variety of ways.

To begin with, the military coordinates services for family members with special needs through the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP ).
Members of the armed forces who have family members with special needs
(who could be spouses, children or dependent adults) are required to
enroll in EFMP. Once enrolled, EFMP helps a military family find
federal and community resources that meet its special needs, and it also
helps families transition services between assignments.

The
Department of Defense has created a very useful Parent Tool Kit for
military parents of children with special needs. The tool kit,
available for download here, consists of six different modules that offer assistance with special education, health care and more.

In addition to these tools, the military has created Special Care Organizational Records
for adults with special needs, children with special needs and elderly
family members. These records, which are just as helpful for
non-military families, allow caregivers to collect and organize
information about all aspects of the life of a person with special
needs. The records differ depending on the age of the person with
special needs, but, in general, they include places to record medical
histories, medications, educational goals and other important
information.

Unfortunately, for all of the resources that it makes available for families of children with special needs, the military still does
not allow service members to direct military survivor benefits to a
special needs trust for the benefit of a child with a disability
. Although legislation has been proposed that would fix this problem, it stalled in the last Congress and may not be renewed this year.

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