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The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)

Comprehensive support for military families

Military veteran kissing disabled son

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) provides comprehensive support for military families with special educational or medical needs. Active-duty military service members with children or other eligible family members requiring special needs services should enroll in the program. The goal of EFMP is to help these families sustain their quality of life. In part, this involves assigning them to locations where services their disabled loved ones rely on are readily available.



EFMP Benefits


According to the United States Department of Defense, which runs the program, more than 100,000 service members were part of EFMP as of 2022. The program is in place across all branches of the U.S. military: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force.

EFMP consists of three related components across the Department of Defense: Identification and Enrollment, Family Support, and Assignment Coordination. These components collaborate to serve military families with special needs. As a whole, the program offers the following kinds of benefits (which may vary somewhat across different service branches):

  • Connecting military families with helpful resources, such as special education liaisons, legal services, child care programs, and support groups

  • Providing detailed checklists and toolkits tailored to your family's circumstances and needs

  • Lending customized support through in-person offices

  • Housing an online library of tools for guidance on topics as diverse as personal finance, estate planning, and parenting

  • Enabling access to health care during travel or relocation

  • In some cases, qualifying for priority housing

Research also shows that enrollment in EFMP does not have a negative effect on service members' military career trajectory.


Identification and Enrollment

When the program identifies a dependent of a military service member as having special medical or educational needs, medical services coordinates registration in EFMP.

Individuals with chronic health conditions that require special medical services may qualify - for instance, family members with asthma, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, autism, or diabetes. EFMP also serves children with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome, that require special education or therapy. Other disabled dependents may rely on a service animal or require accessible housing.

The registration process includes documenting the family’s needs. Medical services also review whether the family is eligible for the TRICARE Extended Health Care Option, which gives financial assistance to beneficiaries with disabilities.

Enrollment in the EFMP is mandatory for those who qualify. This ensures that a service member's assignment is appropriate for their family’s specific needs. If you have yet to enroll, contact the nearest EFMP case coordinator for your service branch.

Unless the case closes or the member ends service, enrollment is permanent. The military reviews medical and special education records every three years or when a condition changes. Military service members must keep documentation current. Records should reflect any changes in a family member’s needs.


Assignment Coordination

Medical and military personnel departments consider a family’s special medical or educational needs when assigning a military member to a location. Since available services vary by location, assignment coordination aims to place military families where there are appropriate services. The assignment balances these considerations with the military mission.


Family Support

Family Support aims to help families navigate the program’s services, connect to resources, and advocate for themselves. Most installations have a Family Support Center offering information, referrals, and non-clinical case management.

These centers help families work through the Identification and Enrollment and Assignment Coordination processes. Centers also offer education outreach and information about early interventions and local school services. When a family moves, previous and new centers work together to facilitate the transition.


EFMP & Me


Beyond accessing help in person at Family Support Centers, families can also find assistance online. The EFMP & Me online tool guides EFMP participants through the program’s network of services and supports.

The tool offers several features to provide easily available and up-to-date information. Families can find answers to commonly asked questions and can view resource materials. Customized checklists direct families to local and virtual support options.

The site also presents news about the Office for Special Needs and the program so that participants can stay informed about any changes that might affect them.

Equipping with information about the program, families can better advocate for themselves and find the services they need.


Education Directory for Children With Special Needs


The Education Directory for Children with Special Needs serves as one more tool. It informs families about services for their disabled children, helping them make informed assignment decisions and facilitate smoother transitions.

The Early Intervention Directory offers information about intervention service providers for children up to 3 years old. Parents can also find information about national and state early intervention trends via this directory.

The School-Age Directory sheds light on education services for children from 3 to 21 years old. Parents can view school sizes, student-to-teacher ratios, Title 1 status, and demographic information about the student body. Families can also review information about national and state special education trends.


DirectSTEP® eCourse Program


In addition, EFMP provides DirectSTEP® eCourses to service members, families, and EFMP and special education staff. The resource covers special education topics, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Respite Care Program


The Exceptional Family Member Program also offers brief rest periods for families caring for individuals with disabilities. These respite care services, which may include in-home care, as well as enrichment programs and camps, can help reduce caregiver stress.


More Information


For more information about the EFMP, contact your local installation center and view the EFMP & Me online tool. If you have legal questions about the program, you may also wish to speak to a special needs planning attorney. Find a qualified attorney near you today.

You can also connect for free with a Military OneSource special needs consultant by phone, live chat, or video call.

Military service members who have dependents with disabilities may want to check out the following as well:

 

If you have further questions about financial impacts do not hesitate to email us at office@staltfinancial.com, call 248-733-4344, or set a time to talk on our calendar www.calendly.com/staltfinancial


The information contained in this material is for general information only and are those of the author, and not a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell investment products.

This article contains links to third party websites. Stalt Financial does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to Stalt Financial's web site or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility therefore. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

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