Moving With an Individualized Education Program

Father reading with son on tablet

If you have a child with an individualized education program, don’t be nervous about moving schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, ensures that all children with special needs have access to a free, appropriate public education and the tools needed to meet their educational goals — no matter where or how often your family moves.

The IDEA governs how states and public agencies, including the Department of Defense, provide early intervention, special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities from birth through age 21. Department of Defense Instruction/Manual 1342.12 “Provisions of Early Intervention and Special Education Services to Eligible DoD Dependents” published on June 17, 2015 interprets IDEA for the Department of Defense.

When a student with an individualized education program transfers, the new school must:

  • Provide free and appropriate public education. This principle makes sure every child, regardless of disability, has the right to a free public education tailored to achieve his or her highest potential.
  • Include services comparable to those in your child’s current individualized education program. The new school provides interim services until the IEP team adopts the incoming IEP or develops and implements a new IEP.

Comparable services are provided if the child is identified as having a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act at the time of the transfer, the IEP was in effect at the previous school, or if the transfer was in the same academic school year.

You may be able to get a head start on registering your child in a new school and coordinating their IEP through the Advance Enrollment Initiative. This policy, in place in a number of states, waives the residency requirement for military families, allowing them to pre-enroll their children before arriving at the PCS destination.

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children eases relocation issues by calling for the new school to provide special education services comparable to the previous school’s until it can create a new IEP.

Contact your EFMP Family Support provider to request a warm hand off to the gaining installation prior to a PCS.  Your EFMP Family Support provider can provide information, resources, and referrals even before you’ve arrived at your location.

Your school liaison can help pave the way for your child’s transfer to a new school and assist with any other issues that arise with your child’s IEP or education in general.


Military OneSource offers a number of resources to help your family move successfully with an IEP.

It may take your child awhile to get used to the new surroundings and people, but over time, they will. Reach out to the new school and remain an active advocate for your child in developing the new individualized education program. As a member of your child’s IEP team at both the losing and gaining school, you play an important role in helping your child thrive.

Take advantage of available services offered by EFMP Family Support on your installation. Or, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use live chat to schedule an appointment with a special needs consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options. Appointments are available seven days a week.

10 Questions to Ask Child Care Providers for Your Child With Special Needs

Young child playing in child care center

Finding a great child care provider is like finding a new member of your military family. After all, your child will spend a significant amount of time there each week, and what happens at day care can impact what happens at home. This connection makes it even more important for families when looking for a child care provider for a child with special needs.

Here’s a list of 10 questions for you to ask potential care providers in your community before enrolling your child with special needs in a new child care program.

  1. Is your child care program nationally or regionally accredited? With an accredited child care facility, you’re more likely to get the best possible care for your child.
  2. Do you hold regular staff training or educational opportunities? The answer to this question not only tells you how highly the child care provider values its staff, it also offers a glimpse into how receptive staff will be to learning new ways to care for your child and their special needs.
  3. What is your current staff-to-student ratio? The more staff a child care provider already has, the more likely it is your child with special needs will more easily fit in with the current classroom environment.
  4. How do staff discipline children, if necessary? Look for providers who would reinforce the discipline strategies you use at home in order to create a more consistent and predictable experience for your child.
  5. What are the age ranges of children at your program? If you know you’re going to stay in an area for a while, do your best to pick a child care provider that will be able to take your child on for the length of your stay at this latest PCS.
  6. May I see your parent handbook or a copy of your policies? Reading through a provider’s parent handbook or policies will tell you how organized a child care provider is, what situations may have occurred previously and what your family can expect.
  7. What would you consider ‘special needs’? Just as there is a range of special needs a child could have, there is a range of what child care providers consider to be special needs, which may impact your child’s subsequent care. Getting everyone on the same page before your child participates will help avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
  8. Has your child care program ever cared for a child with this need before? This question offers background on how the child care provider handled your specific need in the past, and how they may approach future accommodations. Bear in mind that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, child care providers are not allowed to assume what care your child needs based on their previous experience or personal understanding of the special need. Instead, they must evaluate your child as an individual to see what they need to thrive in the program and if such accommodations can be offered without posing a fundamental change to the nature of the program.
  9. How do you introduce new children to your child care program? A proper introduction of a newcomer into the program can make a significant impact on the child’s experience.
  10. How involved are the families in your child care program? Some child care providers expect little outside involvement from the families; others expect regular volunteering and contributions from parents. Know what expectations the provider has for you as the parent before you commit to a child care program.

In the end, everyone – you as a parent and the child care provider staff as a whole – wants what is best for your child. By asking these questions, you can make sure they and you are ready to make your child’s time at their day care or other child care program a success.

Use the EFMP & Me tool to help organize your child care and other needs for your family. Review the Child Care section for tips and resources. And if you ever need extra help, you can always reach out to your installation EFMP Family Support provider, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use live chat to schedule an appointment with a special needs consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options. Appointments are available seven days a week.

Liaison Connects Families with TRICARE Services

Woman filling out paperwork at desk

To help families with special needs get the most benefit from their health care coverage, the Department of Defense Office of Special Needs includes a TRICARE liaison on its team. The liaison helps families navigate TRICARE to find the information and services they need.

The TRICARE liaison can help with issues such as enrollment, benefits, claims, debt collection, provision of services at military treatment facilities, as well as finding civilian medical and dental resources. This service is free to military members and their families anywhere in the world, whether they are enrolled in TRICARE East, TRICARE West, TRICARE for Life, TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select.

The TRICARE liaison can be contacted by appointment only. You can request an appointment through your installation EFMP Family Support staff or Military OneSource’s Exceptional Family Member Program specialty consultations. Either way, the EFMP Family Support or specialty consultation staff will work with you to get your questions answered as quickly as possible. If help is needed beyond their ability to assist, you will be offered a three-way call connecting you to the TRICARE liaison, who can:

  • Provide inside information and resources beyond what EFMP staff or a consultant may have.
  • Explain different policies and options to help families make informed choices.
  • Help families navigate TRICARE: who to speak to, what to do and where to start.
  • Assist with the appeals process for denied claims.

The TRICARE liaison has extensive experience with TRICARE and disabilities care issues and, if needed, can provide direct assistance to your situation.

For more information, contact your installation EFMP Family Support Staff or a special needs specialty consultant through Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or by live chat

Higher Education for Your Children – The Essentials

Teen girl being awarded scholarship

Military OneSource stands by your side with information and resources so you can support your child’s education. Military families have several options when it comes to financing your youth’s college or trade school education, including scholarships, Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits, education grants, loans and college savings programs. Your children’s goals are as important as your own, and Military OneSource has your back as you plan for this milestone.

Here are several ways to make college or trade school education possible for your youth:

Start saving early

Regardless of your child’s age, start saving now. It may seem daunting, but there are plenty of ways to put some money away now that will pay dividends to your child’s college education down the line. There are many savings plans available, including 529 Plans, which allow your savings to grow tax-free. The Office of Financial Readiness is available to help with your financial planning. Talk to a personal financial counselor at your installation. You can also arrange to speak with an education consultant through Military OneSource. Call 800-342-9647 or live chat to schedule an appointment with an education consultant. Appointments are available seven days a week.

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Scholarships for military children

There are numerous scholarships available to children of service members. Each scholarship has different eligibility requirements. Check carefully to find the scholarships right for your student’s educational goals, then apply, apply, apply. The wider the net you cast, the greater your chances of finding a financial partner to help pay for college. Contact your installation school liaison for scholarship opportunities in your community.

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Look into loans

If you’re taking out a loan, be sure to read the fine print. Colleges and universities will offer a host of financial aid packages, so research each carefully to make sure you’re signing up for the right one. You also have the option to borrow directly from the government. Create a personal financial aid spreadsheet to compare which loans and aid your student qualifies for. There are several loans available, including Direct Stafford Loans, PLUS loans and Federal Perkins Loans. A Military OneSource education consultant can also help answer your questions.

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Apply for grants

In addition to scholarships, there are plenty of education grants which families don’t have to repay, such as Federal Pell Grants and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunities Grant Program, or FSEOG. To begin the grant process, start with the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Most colleges and universities use this form to determine students’ eligibilities for aid, grants and scholarships.

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Students with special needs

Most colleges and universities now offer in-person and distance learning options that allow for equal access to learning for students with disabilities. To find the right fit for your student seeking traditional learning, begin the search early for higher education. Visit the school virtually or in person, talk to the disability service offices on prospective campuses and reach out to current students with similar disabilities to better understand their learning and living experiences.

Your student may also decide a different career path might be a better fit. Many opportunities exist for additional learning and career growth, through internships and apprenticeships, adult education programs, job training programs and comprehensive postsecondary transition programs, or CPTs. PACER Center, and its Transitioning to Life After High School content, provides invaluable resources for families with exceptional family members.

If your teen has an individualized education program, or IEP, he or she can choose to receive additional educational support and assistance through age 21. While an IEP doesn’t extend to higher education institutions, students with 504 plans can take those plans with them to college.

Families with exceptional family members can explore postsecondary education with the help of their installation’s Exceptional Family Member Program and can find links to their state’s transition resources in the Education Directory for Children with Special Needs. Parents and guardians can also reach out to Military OneSource by phone at 800-342-9647 or set up a live chat to schedule an appointment to talk with a special needs consultant. Appointments are available seven days a week.

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EFMP Forms

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DD Form 2792, “Family Member Medical Summary,” January 2021 This form is used to document a family member’s special medical needs and for enrollment in the Exceptional Family Member Program. This information assists military assignment personnel in matching the family member’s special medical needs against the availability of medical services at the projected duty station.

DD Form 2792-1, “Special Education/Early Intervention Summary,” January 2021 This form is used to document the special education needs of a child with a disability, birth through age 21, and for enrollment in the Exceptional Family Member Program. This information will assist military assignment personnel in matching the child’s special education needs against the availability of educational services at the projected duty station.

Special Needs Relevant Articles

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The Exceptional Family Member Program: for Families with Special Needs

Financial Planning and Assistance for Special Needs Families

Exceptional Family Member Program Family Support

Department of Defense Directory on Early Intervention, Special Education and Related Services in OCONUS Communities

Family-to-Family Health Information Centers

Know the Laws That Protect Your Child with Special Needs

Supplemental Security Income

Understanding Accessible Housing: The Fair Housing Act

An Overview of Adults with Special Needs

CAP Adaptive Equipment Availability and Services

Person-Centered Planning

Tax Breaks for Families with Special Needs

Medicaid for Family Members with Special Needs

What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Education Directory for Children With Special Needs

Child Care Options For Military Families With Special Needs

Special Needs Consultations

Recognizing the Importance of Special Education Law to Families

Special Needs Consultations

Girl kissing service member mom

The special needs consultants available through Military OneSource Exceptional Family Member Program Resources, Options and Consultations, or EFMP ROC, can answer your questions and concerns related to your child or adult family member with special needs. Consultants are professionals with master’s degrees and extensive experience in the disability field. They’re also trained in military programs. When you have your call, you can expect your consultant to:

  • Listen to what your family needs
  • Complete a needs assessment
  • Determine and evaluate what resources your family already has or has tried
  • Guide your family toward the help you need
  • Conduct three-way calls between you and TRICARE health care and arrange warm hand-offs to installation EFMP Family Support staff or other experts to assist you

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

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  • EFMP has enhanced support for families with special needs through ROC. EFMP ROC provides ready, one-source access to specialized resources, options and customized consultations for military families with special needs. Call or live chat at any time to schedule a specialty consultation by phone or video.
  • EFMP connects you with consultants who have subject matter expertise in education, the military health care system, TRICARE coverage, state and federal programs and more.

EFMP ROC provides extra support through three-way calls with health care and other experts.

How can special needs consultants help?

Your consultant can connect you with information, resources, services and more, including:

Special needs consultants are ready to support you. Consultations are available via phone or video session. Make an appointment 24/7 with live chat or by calling 800-342-9647.