If you have a child with special education or health needs, you know how important it is to stay informed about issues that affect your child. Regulations and services for special needs children vary from state to state, and some United States laws do not apply on installations overseas. As a military parent, you may find it difficult to get current information that supports your child's education. Specialized Training of Military Parents (STOMP) is a Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center dedicated to empowering military families with the training and information they need to promote success for their child with special needs. Knowledge and skills you learn from STOMP can make you a more effective advocate for your child.
STOMP staff members present training workshops and conferences at military locations around the world. The topics are unique to military families of children with special needs. Each workshop is tailored to the local installation and the surrounding community. Topics STOMP covers include:
- Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Identify the educational resources at your next duty station so your child can begin receiving services as soon as possible after you move.
- Working with your child's educational or early intervention planning team. Ensure continuity in your child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) as you move from state to state or from state to Department of Defense (DoD) schools.
- Developing a comprehensive home file. Get tips on organizing and keeping track of your child's records and appointments.
STOMP is available to educators, administrators, Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) coordinators, and other service providers. However, the program's primary focus is on helping parents advocate for their child with special needs. Information about legal issues such as privacy rights and special education are available by contacting STOMP or can be downloaded from the STOMP website. The site includes information on STOMP workshops and links to laws and regulations important to military families, such as DoD directives affecting children with disabilities.
The difficulties in raising a child with special needs can bring about feelings of isolation and anxiety. Sometimes you may not know where to turn for an answer to a question. Other times you will want to talk with someone who has first-hand knowledge of what you are going through. There are many good reasons for seeking support, and there is no need for you to feel alone. STOMP offers several ways for parents to find support:
- Ask for individual assistance. Contact STOMP for advice or referrals. STOMP is staffed by parents who have raised their own children with disabilities in the military.
- Join the listserv. STOMP hosts a listserv for military families and professionals. The listserv exists to enable military families worldwide to stay informed, connect, and learn from each other.
- Develop your own community parent education/support group. STOMP's parent education coordinators can help you get started putting together a local support group.
STOMP and the EFMP
While not directly affiliated with the EFMP, STOMP works in collaboration with the EFMP by providing good supplementary information and support. The training and communication skills you learn from STOMP can give you the confidence you need to advocate for your child within the military system and in the civilian community.
If you have a child with special needs who does not qualify for EFMP, you can still benefit from STOMP. STOMP is available to you regardless of your child's type of medical condition.