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Updated January 2018 | Being part of a military family can be filled with many surprises, challenges, and opportunities. Part of the military life is moving to new locations every few years or even more frequently. This can be a bit more challenging when there’s a child in the family who has a disability. Lots of questions naturally arise:
- Will special education services be available in the new location?
- What about the types of therapists or expertise your child needs?
- What do you need to do to get ready?
Fortunately, there is help available to make the family’s transition from one location to another a bit more smoothly. Below you will find organizations and resources that will be of help.
Your Parent Training and Information Center | Every state has at least 1 Parent Training and Information Center (PTI). Many states also have a CPRC, a Community Parent Resource Center. These Parent Centers are there to connect parents of children with disabilities with resources, information, and connections. This includes military families of children with special needs. Contact either the Parent Center in your current state or, if you are looking ahead to a relocation, contact the Parent Center in the state to which you’re moving. Find your parent center here at the Hub, at: https://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/
Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) | The office of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) issues extensive guidance for military families with children who have special needs and who are receiving, or are eligible to receive, a free appropriate public education either domestically or overseas. Take a look online at: http://www.dodea.edu/Curriculum/specialEduc/index.cfm
DoDEA can be reached at:
Department of Defense Education Activity 4040 N. Fairfax Drive Arlington, VA 22203 Telephone: 703.588.3104
The Branch | The Branch is funded to build the capacity of Parent Centers nationwide to provide effective services to military parents of children with disabilities and youth with disabilities in military families. While the Branch doesn’t provide direct services to families, it is still a good resource of information for military families. Definitely check out the Branch publications on DoD schools, on relocation, and on various healthcare options. Their library is ever-growing! https://branchta.org/
Other Helpful Resources
Military OneSource – http://www.militaryonesource.mil/ | Offers help with parenting and child care, education, relocation, financial and legal concerns, and everyday issues.
National Military Family Association – http://www.militaryfamily.org/ | Provides education and information regarding rights, benefits, and services for military families.
Courage To Care, Courage to Talk…about War Injuries | Available in English and Spanish http://www.couragetotalk.org/index.php | The Courage to Care Courage to Talk campaign focuses on the importance of injury communication between healthcare providers and the family of the injured service member, as well as within the family itself, especially communicating with children. Find helpful tipsheets here to guide conversations with family, veterans, and children. Available in English and Spanish.
Military Child Education Coalition – www.militarychild.org/ | Helps military children cope with being transferred from school to school around the world.
Military and DoD Child Care Assistance – https://usa.childcareaware.org/fee-assistancerespite/ | Child Care Aware® of America partners with the United States Military and Department of Defense to serve and support their families through the Fee Assistance and Respite Child Care Programs.
Military and Veteran Families Support – https://www.zerotothree.org/parenting/military-and-veteran-families-support | ZERO TO THREE has developed resources specially designed for military and veteran families and the professionals who serve them. This includes tools for parents to use as they navigate the many transitions that are a part of military-connected life.
Readings and Activities
Little Listeners in an Uncertain World – https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1102-little-listeners-in-an-uncertain-world | This 8-page book’s subtitle is: Coping strategies for you and your child during deployment or when a crisis occurs. It outlines what parents may see in their babies and toddlers during stressful times and offers concrete guidance and activities to support their young children throughout these challenging events.
Moving to a New Location – https://www.parentcenterhub.org/moving/ | Lots of practical suggestions for planning that move.
Relocation for Military Families – https://branchta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Relocation-for-Military-Families.pdf | From the experts at the Branch.
Helping children handle deployments – http://www.survivingdeployment.com/helpchildrenhandle.html | Your child’s moodiness and behavior during the deployment may be a sign of stress or anxiety. Here’s what you can do to help your children handle deployment.
Helping children cope with deployments and reunions – https://www.realwarriors.net/family/children/ | From Real Warriors: Children respond differently to a parent’s deployment depending on their age and maturity level. These materials will help families negotiate the stages of deployment with tips on helping children cope while Mom or Dad is deployed. Families can also use these materials to organize pre-deployment family meetings and review age-leveled activities, books, and videos.