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Advance Enrollment for Military Children

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If your child is one of the 185,000 military children changing schools annually due to a PCS move, you may know about bumpy transitions between school systems. Military families face PCS challenges such as:

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  • Transferring records
  • Learning the differences in education and graduation requirements for the current versus the new state
  • Finding ways around the enrollment barriers in electives, sports and other extracurricular activities
  • Ensuring children can get the same individualized education program services at their new school

The Defense Department worked with the National Center for Interstate Compacts to establish the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children. This compact covers:

  • Common policies for records transfer
  • Enrollment
  • Placement
  • Graduation requirements

While these common policies cover many of the typical concerns of military families, they do not alleviate the challenges. Because of military-direct moves, children often face issues such as:

  • Limited course availability
  • Missed application deadlines

To address these issues and improve access to schools, courses and programs for military children, the Defense-State Liaison Office is working with states to develop policies enabling military parents to pre-enroll their children in a school district before they arrive at their new PCS destination. The initiative, called Advance Enrollment, is now the policy in 34 states.

Advance enrollment initiative

States that participate in advance enrollment allow military families to enroll their children in the new school district:

  • At the same time as the general student population (spring of the previous school year)
  • Without presenting proof of physical residence within the school district before they enroll

The benefits of advance enrollment for military children include:

  • The opportunity to participate in random lotteries for charter or magnet schools
  • The chance to enroll in specialized academic programs
  • The opportunity to begin coordinating IEP and 504 plan requirements
  • The chance to register for courses and plan their course of study
  • The comfort of knowing which school they will attend before arriving at the new location

Additional details and supporting states

You must provide the following information to take advantage of advance enrollment:

  • Documentation of a pending military relocation to the state
  • Proof of residency provided to the school district within the required number of days after arrival at the new location

Not every state has approved this policy. States in which it has passed include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Get more information

School liaisons are the main contact for military families, local school systems and installation command for school-related matters in pre-K through grade 12. School liaisons can help:

  • You with your PCS transition as it pertains to education
  • You stay up to date on your new state’s policy and participation
  • Your children get settled into a new school after a PCS
  • You transfer your child’s credits and register for classes
  • You locate after-school activities, extracurricular programs and tutoring resources
  • You connect with the Exceptional Family Member Program and your school’s special education department
  • You navigate your new school district’s special education program in coordination with EFMP personnel

If you have additional questions or need any information regarding your child with special needs, contact:

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