Resources for At-Need Children
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
April 14, 2014 by Mark Dye
April is Month of the Military Child, and we’re celebrating with several blogs throughout the month that focus on military kids. This one delves into services and programs to assist at-need children.
I know how stressful having a special needs child can be. Different doctors appointments, calls from school or daycare at unexpected and inconvenient times, wondering if your child will ever be able to live on his or her own…all of these add to the stress we already feel as parents. Being in the military adds another level of difficulty, with frequent moves making it difficult, if not impossible to deliver care consistently.
Thankfully, we don’t have to go it alone, as there are many resources and services out there to help make things easier on you and your child. Remember that each state and school district also offers their own programs and services, so make sure to research everything available in your area.
- Parent Tool Kit—The Department of Defense (DoD) provides a “Special Needs Parent Tool Kit” that should serve as your starting point, as it goes into great detail on what is needed and expected as your child gets older. The PDF covers everything you need to know, from getting your child evaluated early, to how schools can assist your child, to the frequently used terms you’ll hear along the way.
- Specialized Training of Military Parents—STOMP, as it is known, was established in 1985 to assist military families with special needs children. It is federally funded through a Department of Education grant and focused on giving parents a place to find information and support. A neat fact is that all of STOMP’s staff members are parents of kids with special needs, giving them first-hand experience.
- U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity—The DoD’s school system outlines its special education program, including what types of disabilities are eligible for services and how they are handled. They also provide information on how to receive services for those stationed overseas.
- Partnerships for Action Voices for Empowerment—PAVE is a non-profit organization created to “share information and resources with people whose lives are linked to children and adults with disabilities.” They are a supporter of STOMP and have a wealth of information about the evaluation and special education processes.
- U.S. Department of Education—The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that all children with disabilities have access to education, and this website is designed to inform parents and educators about the IDEA’s provisions. It breaks down the law into two parts—Part B for children ages 3 to 21 and Part C for kids from birth to two years of age—and provides information on how to file a complaint if needed.
- Exceptional Family Member Program—Provided by Military One Source, this program ensures consistency of care throughout your military career, no matter where you are stationed. Given the frequent moves military families face, this is a critical program. It also offers a great deal of information about what to expect and how to cope with the often-difficult situations faced by parents of at-need kids.
Sure, being the parent of an at-need child can be tough and stressful and even confusing at times. But you don’t have to take it all on yourself. Instead, take advantage of these and other programs to help make things go a bit smoother—for you and your child.
Be sure to check out some of our other blogs focused on children!