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The Exceptional Family Member Program: Three Parts Working Together

Smiling child in purple sweater

Those with passing knowledge of the Exceptional Family Member Program may believe it’s a single entity. In fact, EFMP is three interrelated components across the Department of Defense that work together on behalf of military families with special needs – Identification and Enrollment, Assignment Coordination and EFMP Family Support.

As a service provider or military leader, you are in a unique position to clear up misconceptions that can cause frustrations for families with special needs, while pointing them toward the helpful resources the program offers.

Service branches vary in how they implement the Exceptional Family Member Program. However, the Department of Defense is working with the military services to standardize elements, which will allow families with special needs to have a more consistent EFMP experience.

The graphic below offers a visual representation of how the three components of EFMP work together that can help you explain the processes of EFMP to military families with special needs.

visual representation of how the three components of EFMP work together

Identification and Enrollment

Identification and Enrollment is the point of entry into EFMP. When a family member is identified as having special medical or education needs, medical services will coordinate the documentation of those needs and the family’s enrollment in EFMP. They will also review the family’s eligibility for the TRICARE Extended Health Care Option.

EFMP enrollment is mandatory for families with special needs. It’s required to enroll in TRICARE ECHO and ensures the family’s needs are considered during the assignment process.

Assignment Coordination

With the family member’s special medical or education needs documented, medical and military personnel departments work together to coordinate assignments to locations that have the resources to address those needs. While the military mission is the driving force in assignments, the family member’s needs are considered since appropriate services may be limited in some locations.

Family Support

This is the most visible component of EFMP, with a Family Support center on most installations. Family Support providers help families navigate the Identification and Enrollment and Assignment Coordination processes. They help families become their own best advocate by providing:

  • Information and referrals for military and community services
  • Education outreach
  • Information about early intervention and local school services
  • Warm handoff to the EFMP program at the next location
  • Non-clinical case management

Tap Into EFMP & Me

EFMP & Me is an online tool for military families with special needs to directly solve problems, stay organized and informed, locate support and plan ahead. EFMP & Me’s interface for service providers and leaders provides easily-accessible information and answers to your questions about EFMP, allowing you to guide service members and their families to the resources they need. EFMP & Me offers:

  • Up-to-date information on what is happening with the Office for Special Needs and across EFMP
  • Flexible, ready-to-go briefing materials
  • Easy access to tools, messaging and information that address common misperceptions about EFMP, help you answer questions and address readiness concerns of EFMP-enrolled service members


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