What Happens During an Early Intervention Evaluation?

Early Intervention is intended for infants and toddlers who have a developmental delay or disability.

Eligibility is determined by evaluating the child (with parental consent) to see if the child does, in fact, have a delay in development or a disability. Eligible children can receive early intervention services from birth to the third birthday. After a referral is accepted, a team of professionals uses standardized tools and observations to evaluate a child’s development in five areas:

  1. Physical – Reaching for and grasping toys, crawling, walking and jumping
  2. Cognitive – Watching activities, following simple directions, problem – solving
  3. Social Emotional – Making needs known, initiating games, starting to take turns
  4. Communication – Vocalizing, babbling, using two -to-three word phrases
  5. Adaptive – Holding a bottle, eating with fingers, getting dressed
Five areas of a child's development: Physical, Cognitive, Social - Emotional, Communication and Adaptive
Five Areas of a Child’s Development

After a child is evaluated, data are compared against typically developing children of the same age. If scores show a 25 percent delay overall or if the score in one developmental area is statistically 1.5 standard deviations below typical peers, then the child is eligible for an IFSP.

Some medical and developmental conditions are more likely to cause developmental delays. ESIT has a Qualifying Diagnoses List of these conditions that allows for automatic eligibility determinations. If an infant or toddler has a qualifying diagnosis, they will be enrolled in early intervention services without completing the initial eligibility evaluations.

ESIT’s A Family’s Guide to Early Intervention Services in Washington State contains more details about the evaluation process.

Getting to Know the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

Familiarize yourself with your child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). You will be better prepared to support your child when you review the IFSP draft before meeting with the IFSP team for the first time.

  1. Read the IFSP draft before the IFSP meeting: Be sure to ask for a copy for the IFSP draft with enough time to look it over before the meeting.
    • The amount of time a family needs for review also might depend on whether the document is translated into a language besides English. Under state and federal law, parents have the right to information about their child’s education in a language they can understand.
  2. Review your child’s present levels and needs.
    • Read the evaluation data about your child’s current strengths, weaknesses, and abilities, and developmental area.
  3. Read the family priorities and concerns for accuracy.
    • The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a whole family plan, with the child’s primary caregivers as major contributors to its development and implementation. Carefully read the sections that refer to family priorities and concerns. Write down anything you would like to add or change.
    • The IFSP includes goals, and progress is monitored to determine whether the plan is supporting appropriate outcomes. The plan is reviewed every six months and is updated at least once a year but can be reviewed at any time by request of parents or other team members.
    • As you think of additional concerns and priorities, list them here to return to at the next meeting. Consider requesting a meeting before the six-month review for urgent or time-sensitive goals.
  4. Review any recommended resources.
    • Explore the resources provided in the IFSP and make note of those you want to return to:
  5. Consider the major results/outcomes expected of your child.
    • Note any that you may require breaking down a skill into smaller tasks to learn (or “chunking”) and any questions or concerns you may have about specific goals.
  6. Identify the services, including frequency and duration.
    • If an infant or toddler is eligible, early intervention services are designed to meet the child’s individual needs. Read through the IFSP and identify your child’s services.
  7. Review the location (s) of service delivery.
    • Services are typically provided in the child’s home or other natural environment, such as daycare. They may also be offered in a medical hospital, a clinic, a school, or another community space. Any services provided outside the child’s natural environment require a statement explaining the rationale for the placement.
  8. Identify the source of funding or payment for services.
    • Washington State provides most early intervention services at no cost to families of eligible children. Some services covered by insurance are billed to a child’s health insurance provider, with the signed consent of a family caregiver. The early intervention system may not use health care insurance (private or public) without express, written consent.
    • Part C of the IDEA requires states to provide the following services at no cost to families: Child Find (outreach and evaluation), assessments, IFSP development and review, and service coordination.
  9. Save your Family Resource Coordinator (FRC’s) information.

Next Steps When Your Child is Found Eligible for Early Intervention Services (EIS)

The evaluation timeline for eligibility for early intervention services (EIS) begins with a written referral and varies depending on the age of the child at the time of the referral.

Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) has 45 days starting on the date of referral to:

  • evaluate for eligibility
  • conduct assessments
  • hold the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) meeting
  • develop an IFSP

Parents/custodial caregivers must provide written consent for services to begin

The IFSP will be reviewed every six months and revised yearly until the child is too old for ESIT services, or more often if needed.

Once the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) has been written, services must start within 30 days unless the IFSP team determines that a later start date better meets the individual needs of the child and family

The Family Resource Coordinator (FRC) schedules a transition conference for when the child will age out of ESIT services, at least 90 days before the child’s third birthday

Calendar days are all days of the week, including weekends, and school, state, federal and religious holidays.

According to ESIT’s Practice Guide for Late Services: Provision and Documentation, the day of referral counts as the first day in the timeline. Similarly, the date the IFSP is created counts as the first day in the 30-day timeline during which services must begin.

Graphic explaining the process from Referral to Action Getting Started with Early Intervention Services (EIS)

Exploring Assistive Technology: Understanding, Access, and Resources for All Ages and Abilities

Brief overview:

  • Access to assistive technology (AT) is protected by four federal laws.
  • The U.S. Department of Education has released guidance on the specific requirements about providing AT under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The guidance takes the form of detailed explanations for many misunderstood facts about using AT in schools and early intervention services. It is available online and in PDF form in English and Spanish.
  • AT can be very simple and low-cost, or it may be high-tech or large and expensive. Resources for deciding on AT devices and services and buying or getting low-cost or free TA are included in the article.

Full Article

You can also type “assistive technology” in the search bar at wapave.org to find other articles where assistive technology is mentioned.

What is assistive technology (AT)? Who uses it? Where is it used?
Assistive technology (AT) is any item, device, or piece of equipment used by people with disabilities to maintain or improve their ability to do things. AT allows people with disabilities to be more independent in education, at work, in recreation, and daily living activities. AT might be used by a person at any age—from infants to very elderly people.

AT includes the services necessary to get AT and use it, including assessment (testing), customizing it for an individual, repair, and training in how to use the AT. Training can include training the individual, family members, teachers and school staff or employers in how to use the AT.

Some examples of AT include:

  • High Tech: An electronic communication system for a person who cannot speak; head trackers that allow a person with no hand movement to enter data into a computer
  • Low Tech: A magnifying glass for a person with low vision; a communication board made of cardboard for a person who cannot speak
  • Big: An automated van lift for a wheelchair user
  • Small: A grip attached to a pen or fork for a person who has trouble with his fingers
  • Hardware: A keyboard-pointing device for a person who has trouble using her hands
  • Software: A screen reading program, such as JAWS, for a person who is blind or has other disabilities

You can find other examples of AT for people of all ages on this Fact Sheet from the Research and Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living.

Select the AT that works best:

Informing Families, a website from the Developmental Disabilities Administration, suggests this tip: “Identify the task first. Device Second. There are a lot of options out there, and no one device is right for every individual. Make sure the device and/or apps are right for your son or daughter and try before you buy.”

AT3 Center, a national site for AT information, has links describing, finding and buying a wide variety of assistive technology, with text in English and Spanish.

Understood.org offers a series of articles about AT focused on learning in school, for difficulties in math, reading, writing, and more.

Who decides when AT is needed?  Your child’s medical provider or team may suggest the AT and services that will help your child with their condition. If your child is eligible for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), an Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP), or a 504 plan, access to AT is required by law. In that case, the team designing the plan or program will decide if AT is needed, and if so, what type of AT will be tried. Parents and students, as members of the team, share in the decision-making process. A process for trying out AT is described on Center for Parent Information and Resources, Considering Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities.

Access to assistive technology (AT) is protected by four laws:

  1. The AT Act of 2004 requires states to provide access to AT products and services that are designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. The law created AT agencies in every state. State AT agencies help you find services and devices that are covered by insurance, sources for AT if you are uninsured, AT “loaner” programs to try a device or service, options to lease a device, and help you connect with your state’s Protection and Advocacy Program if you have trouble getting, using, or keeping an assistive service or device. Washington State’s AT agency, Washington Assistive Technology Act Program (WATAP), has a “library” of devices to loan for a small fee and offers demonstrations of how a device or program works.

IDEA Part C includes AT devices and services as an early intervention service for infants and toddlers, called Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) in Washington State. AT can be included in the child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). When a toddler transitions from early intervention services to preschool, AT must be considered whether or not a child currently has AT services through an IFSP.

It’s important that a student’s use of AT is specified in their post-secondary Transition Plan. This will document how the student plans to use AT in post-secondary education and future employment and may be needed when asking for accommodations from programs, colleges and employers when IDEA and IEPs no longer apply.

Guidance on assistive technology (AT) from the U.S. Department of Education

In January 2024, the U.S. Department of Education sent out a letter and guidance document on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements for assistive technology for children under Part C and Part B of IDEA.

The guidance document is available online and in a downloadable pdf in English and Spanish. It includes common “Myths and Facts” about AT. The document is designed to help parents, early intervention providers, educators, related service providers, school and district administrators, technology specialists and directors, and state agencies understand what IDEA requires.

For instance, there are examples of what IFSPs might include:

  • A functional AT evaluation to assess if an infant or toddler could benefit from AT devices and services;
  • AAC devices (e.g., pictures of activities or objects, or a handheld tablet) that help infants and toddlers express wants and needs;
  • Tactile books that can be felt and experienced for infants and toddlers with sensory issues;
  • Helmets, cushions, adapted seating, and standing aids to support infants and toddlers with reduced mobility; and
  • AT training services for parents to ensure that AT devices are used throughout the infant or toddler’s day.

For IEPs, some important facts from the guidance document are:

  • Each time an IEP Team develops, reviews, or revises a child’s IEP, the IEP Team must consider whether the child requires AT devices and services (in order to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
  • If the child requires AT, the local educational agency (LEA) is responsible for providing and maintaining the AT and providing any necessary AT service. The IEP team can decide what type of AT will help the child get a meaningful educational benefit.
  • The IEP must include the AT to be provided in the statement on special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services.
  • A learner’s AT device should be used at home as well as at school, to ensure the child is provided with their required support.
  • AT devices and services should be considered for a child’s transition plan as they can create more opportunities for a child to be successful after high school. (Note: AT can be an accommodation used in post-secondary education and in a job).

If a student is already using AT devices or services that were owned or loaned to the family, such as a smartphone, theguidance includes information about how to write it into an IEP or an agreement between the parents and school district.

Paying for AT

Some types of AT may be essential for everyday living including being out in the community and activities of daily living like eating, personal hygiene, moving, or sleeping. When a child has an AT device or service to use through an IFSP, IEP, or 504 plan, the device or service belongs to the school or agency, even if it’s also used at home. All states have an AT program that can help a school select and try out an AT device. These programs are listed on the Center for Assistive Technology Act Data Assistance (CATADA) website. A child’s AT devices and services should be determined by the child’s needs and not the cost.

When a child graduates or transitions out of public school, they may need or want AT for future education or work. In these cases, families can look for sources of funding for the more expensive types of AT. Here are some additional programs that may pay for AT devices and services:

AT for Military Families

Some programs specific to the United States Armed Forces may cover certain types of assistive technology as a benefit.It’s important for Active-Duty, National Guard, Veteran and Coast Guard families to know that they are eligible for assistive technology programs that also serve civilians, including those in Washington State.

If the dependent of an Active-Duty servicemember is eligible for TRICARE Extended Care Health Option (ECHO), assistive technology devices and services may be covered with some restrictions. The program has an annual cap for all benefits and cost-sharing, so the cost of the AT must be considered. The AT must be pre-authorized by a TRICARE provider and received from a TRICARE-licensed supplier. If there is a publicly funded way to get the assistive technology (school, Medicaid insurance, Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver, state AT agency loaner device, or any source of taxpayer-funded access to AT), the military family must first exhaust all possibilities of using those sources before ECHO will authorize the AT.

Some types of AT, such as Durable Medical Equipment, may be covered under a family’s basic TRICARE insurance plan.

The United States Coast Guard’s Special Needs Program may include some types of assistive technology as a benefit.

Additional Resources
Assistive Technology

Does my child qualify for Assistive Technology (AT) in school?

Movers, Shakers, and Troublemakers: How Technology Can Improve Mobility and Access for Children with Disabilities

Low tech tool ideas that can be used to increase Healthcare Independence

Preparing for Productive and Effective Conversations with Education and Service Providers

Here are our top three tips for making every conversation with your child’s IFSP or IEP team an opportunity to show them what makes your child the remarkable human being you know and love.

  1. Share your child’s strengths and needs: Every conversation with your child’s IFSP or IEP team is an opportunity to show them what makes your child the remarkable human being you know and love. As you work together to develop a plan to address their needs, it’s equally important that you share your child’s strengths. They are more than the sum of their symptoms, challenges, and disabilities. Your child’s interests are a part of who they are and their current abilities can help to identify the best support strategies for their individual needs.
StrengthsNeeds
Things my child does that make me feel happy or unconcernedThings that my child does or cannot do that make me feel concerned
Smiles back at me or othersDoesn’t smile back at me or others
Responds to his or her nameDoesn’t respond to his or her name
Likes to play with other childrenPrefers to play alone
Makes sounds, babbles, or talksSeldom Attempts to make sounds
*Adapted form the PACER Center

While it’s true that children develop differently, at their own pace, and that the range of what’s “normal” development is quite broad, it’s hard not to worry and wonder. If you think that your child is not developing at the same pace or in the same way as most children his or her age, it may be helpful to review established guidelines, such as the Early Learning and Development Guidelines. This booklet includes information about what children can do and learn at different stages of development, focused on birth through third grade. A free downloadable version is available in English and Spanish from the
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

2. Ask Questions: No single person knows everything. You are not expected to know or understand every word or acronym used. Parents have the right to ask questions before, during, and after meetings. Although the professionals may know about child development, you are the expert in your child. It is important for you to ask questions for clarification and understanding; learning as much as you can helps you to be a better advocate for your
child.

3. Take notes and share your reflections: Write down your questions before meetings and make note of anything that remains
unanswered to follow up on. During the meeting, take notes that highlight concerns, resolutions, and unresolved issues. As soon as possible after the meeting, or at least within the next 24 hours, write down everything you remember from the meeting. Then, email a quick thank you note with your notes attached, asking them to let you know if you misheard or misinterpreted anything that was discussed. This allows for clarification and understanding before frustration can take root and interrupt the team’s effectiveness.

This article forms part of the 3-5 Transition Toolkit

What to Expect at the Transition Conference: Going from Part C to Part B

You can utilize this document when preparing for the transition planning process to collect essential Part C data that will be taken into account during the Part B evaluation and eligibility determination phase.

  1. The team will review the documentation of currents needs from all sources, including:
    • Medical documentation and diagnosis
    • IFSP assessment information
    • Other sources
  2. The team will review the present levels of development described in the IFSP, including:
    • Documentation of IFSP Services Provided
    • Present levels of development in each of the following domains:
      • Physical Development (vision, hearing, and health)
      • Cognitive Development
      • Communication Development
      • Social – Emotional Development
      • Adaptive development
  3. During the transition conference, the team will discuss the child’s individual status for the following three measurements to help understand how well they are doing compared to what is typically expected for their age.
    • Social Relationships
    • Knowledge and Skills
    • Action to Meet Needs
  4. At the transition conference, the team will determine whether the child meets the eligibility criteria for Part B, Section 619 services based on the child’s developmental needs. These needs can be identified in physician’s statements and family member interviews regarding-
    • Health (diagnosed conditions)
    • Vision
    • Hearing
    • Social – Emotional Status
    • Cognitive
    • Academic Readiness Skills
    • Communication
    • Motor Abilities

Adapted from the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA)

This article forms part of the 3-5 Transition Toolkit

Differences Between Part B and Part C Services

The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) ends when a child turns 3. Transitioning to a services under an Individualized Education Program (IEP) requires a new evaluation and is a team-led process. Let this handout serve as your cheat sheet for the differences between the IFSP and IEP.

Individualized Family Service Plan
(IFSP)
Individualized Education Program
(IEP)
Ages: Birth (0) to 3 years old
Governed by: Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA), Part C
Also known as early intervention services (EIS)
Ages: 3-21 years old
Governed by: Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA), Part B
Also known as special education services
Eligibility CriteriaEligibility Criteria
Division 125% or 1.5 SD (Standard Deviation) below the
mean in one or more of the following areas of
development:

1. Cognitive
2. Physical (fine or gross motor)
3. Communication (receptive or expressive language)
4. Social or Emotional
5. Adaptive

or –
Diagnosed physical or medical condition that
has a high probability of resulting in delay, such
as but not limited to:

Chromosomal abnormalities
Genetic or congenital disorders
Sensory impairments
Inborn errors of metabolism
Disorders reflecting disturbance of the
development of the nervous system
Congenital infections
Severe attachment disorders
Disorders secondary to exposure to toxic
substances, including fetal alcohol
syndrome
2 SD (Standard Deviation ) below the mean in
one or more areas of development
or –
1.5 SD below the mean in two or more areas of
development
meaning –

Has one or more of the following disabilities

1. Developmental Delay (ages 3-8)
Upon his/her 8th birthday, your child must
be eligible under a different category
2. Specific Learning Disability
3. Intellectual Disability
4. Autism
5 Hearing Impairment
6. Emotional Disturbance
7. Deaf-blindness
8. Multiple Disabilities
9. Orthopedic Impairment
10. Other Health Impairment
11. Deafness
12. Speech/Language Impairment
13. Traumatic Brain Injury

and –
The disability/disabilities adversely affect
his/her educational performance
and –
His/her unique needs cannot be addressed
through education in general education classes
alone, with or without individual
accommodations, and require specially
designed instruction (SDI)
Administered by: Early Support for Infants and ToddlersAdministered by: Washington Office of
Superintendent of Special Instruction (OSPI)
Focus Subject of ServicesFocus Subject of Services
The IFSP outlines the family’s needs in
supporting the child’s developmental progress.
During the first three years of development,
the child’s needs are closely related to the
needs of the family. Recognizing parents as
major contributors in development, the IFSP
builds upon the individual strengths of the
family to address the needs of the child.
The IEP is a comprehensive plan for school-age
children, addressing their educational needs
and academic goals. The IEP specifies the
special education services, goals, and
accommodations necessary for the child’s
education. Goals are typically related to
academic, functional, and behavioral areas.
Location of ServicesLocation of Services
Infants and toddlers usually spend their days
at home or in childcare settings. These are
their “natural environment”. By receiving their
IFSP services in the natural environment, the
family learns to use natural learning
opportunities (like playtime, meals, or baths) to
create countless opportunities for the child to
practice and develop delayed skills. It also
includes the family’s social and cultural
networks, promoting full participation in
community life.
At age 3, a child becomes eligible for special
education and related services. They may
receive services through a preschool, center based and family
childcare center, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program
(ECEAP)
, or Transitional Kindergarten. IEP
services must be provided in the “least
restrictive environment”, meaning that the
child should be with typically developing peers
(those without disabilities) as much as the team
agrees is appropriate for the child.
Frequency of Review and Re-EvaluationFrequency of Review and Re-Evaluation
The IFSP has two different types of reviews:

The periodic review occurs at least every six
months, or more frequently if necessary for
the child’s condition. During the review,
the team discusses progress toward family
outcomes (goals), any new assessment
information, and whether the IFSP needs to
be changed or updated.

At the annual meeting, the team will update
the present levels of development, develop
new outcomes bearing in mind the family’s
priorities, and consider services that will be
needed and provided moving forward.
The IEP must be reviewed, at a minimum,
yearly. This annual review allows the IEP team
to assess the student’s progress, make any
necessary adjustments to goals and services,
and ensure that the IEP continues to meet the
student’s needs.
Every three years, a reevaluation is conducted
if deemed necessary. This reevaluation can
help determine if the student’s disability and
needs have changed and if the services and
goals in the IEP need modification.
*Parents may request an IEP meeting at any
time.

This article can be found as pages 5 and 6 of the 3-5 Transition Toolkit

Pathways to Support: Where to Begin If Your Child Receives Services Through Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT)

When an infant or toddler receiving early intervention services from Washington’s Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program approaches the age of three (3), the Family Resource Coordinator (FRC) begins transition planning for when the child will age out of early intervention services on their third birthday. If the child is potentially eligible for special education and related services, the transition includes evaluation and development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each plan is unique and designed to respond to individual needs.

Transition begins 6-9 months before your child’s third birthday

Transition Planning BeginsTransition ConferenceEvaluation for an IEP
FRC starts talking about transitionScheduled by the FRC for 90 days before your child’s third birthday Begins with parent’s signature of consent for evaluation
FRC transmits your child’s records to the school system, with your written consent, including the most recent IFSP and evaluations/ assessments Explanation of parents rights in special educationSchool receives the records from ESIT
FRC identifies and shares community resourcesDiscussion of options for early childhoods special education and other appropriate servicesFamily provides information and concerns
Development of a transition timelineChild is evaluated for eligibility for an IEP
Writing transition plan into the IFSPEligibility meeting is held within 35 school days

Not all children who qualified for early-learning support will qualify for an IEP. Children who are not eligible for IEP services might be eligible to receive accommodations and support through a Section 504 Plan.

If your child needs support to prepare for school readiness

If a student is having a hard time at school and has a known or suspected disability, the school evaluates to see if the student qualifies for special education, through a process called Child Find. Washington State requires special education referrals to be in writing (WAC 392-172A03005). Anyone with knowledge of a student can write a referral. The state provides a form for making a special education referral, but the form is not required—any written request is valid.

  • Complete the Sample Letter to Request an Evaluation.
  • Make a copy for your records.
  • Call your local school district or go on their website to identify the correct office, person, and address to mail (signed, return receipt requested), email, or hand-deliver your request.
  • Refer to the IEP Referral Timeline to track your child’s progress through the evaluation process.
  • This article forms part of the 3-5 Transition Toolkit

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), Part 2: How Does EFMP Benefit Military Families?

A Brief Overview

  • This is part of a two-part series on this topic of the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). This article continues from Part 1: What Makes a Military Family Exceptional?
  • EFMP consists of three parts that work together for identification and enrollment, assignment coordination, and family support.
  • An off-site centralized office within the branch of service determines eligibility for EFMP and level of need.
  • Enrollment should be updated when there is new medical or educational information, and at least every three years.
  • EFMP enrollment ensures the family member’s needs are considered in the assignment process, although the military requirements take priority.
  • EFMP Family Support provides nonmedical case management, information, resources, and support.
  • Beginning in 2023, eligible families may access 20-32 hours of EFMP respite care per month through their branch of service, depending on level of need and availability of services.
  • Get the most from EFMP by contacting the installation’s Family Support office for information, resources, and support.

Full Article

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) is a mandatory program for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces that helps military dependents with special medical or educational needs. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Space Force each have an Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). The Coast Guard, which operates under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, has a similar program called the Special Needs Program (SNP).

EFMP is made up of three parts that work together to provide:

  1. Identification and Enrollment
  2. Assignment Coordination
  3. Family Support

Identification and Enrollment 

This is the entry point for EFMP. When the service member turns in the enrollment forms, they are sent for processing to an off-site centralized office within the branch that will determine eligibility and the level of need. The decisions are made by medical document reviewers who do not meet or speak with the dependents. Upon completion, the servicemember will receive a letter of verification from the EFMP program for their branch of service.

The same office will determine eligibility for TRICARE’s Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) supplemental medical insurance plan.

EFMP enrollment should be updated anytime the family member has new medical or educational information, and at least every three years.

Assignment Coordination

Once a family member is enrolled in the program, personnel and medical departments coordinate future duty assignments with consideration of the family member’s medical or educational needs. Although the family member’s needs are considered in the assignment process, military requirements take priority for assignment decisions. Orders that accommodate the family member’s needs may include:

  • Accompanied assignment only to locations that have services and resources to support the family member’s medical or educational needs.
  • Unaccompanied assignment, in which the servicemember relocates to the new duty station without the dependents, for a shorter duration than standard duty rotations.

If a service member disagrees with the availability or lack of availability of services at their next duty station, Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction 1315.19 (issued June 2023) provides them up to 14 calendar days from the date of the original assignment notification to request a second review and submit updated medical or educational information. A service being “available” does not mean the family won’t encounter a waiting list for these services, providers who are no longer taking clients or patients, or other interruptions in services.

Families enrolled in EFMP should ensure their paperwork is complete and current before assignment and permanent change of station (PCS) to a new duty station. Get ahead of assignment coordination and allow time for updates to be processed by updating the enrollment forms before the servicemember’s window opens for selecting orders.

Enrollment in EFMP does not prevent the service member from deploying or taking an assignment on unaccompanied orders.

Family Support

This is the department that directly serves families with nonmedical case management and support, including:

  • Information about local military and community programs, services, and supports.
  • Partnering with the School Liaison to provide information about early intervention services, special education, and school-based supports for students with disabilities.
  • Assistance with navigating DoD medical, educational, and counseling systems.
  • Local programs and activities for the benefit of families enrolled in EFMP, such as support groups, classes, and regional or installation events.
  • Warm handoffs to EFMP programs and School Liaisons at the next duty station.

Beginning in 2023, EFMP family support providers are required to personally contact each family assigned to their caseload and every family using the respective service’s respite care program at least once annually.

Find your EFMP enrollment or family support. In the drop-down menu for “Program or service”, select “EFMP Family Support” or “EFMP Enrollment”. Then, select your location from the drop-down menu labeled “Location based on”.

Respite Care

Eligibility requirements for EFMP respite care differ by branch of service and availability of services varies by location. The 2023 DoD Instruction 1315.19 standardized the respite care hours to 20-32 hours per month, across all branches of service, depending upon level of need of the eligible family member. It also extended coverage to include adult dependents and added the opportunity for eligible families to request additional services based on exceptional circumstances.

EFMP respite care is not an entitlement program, but a benefit available only to those who qualify. However, families who are ineligible for EFMP respite care may be able to access community-based respite care programs. EFMP respite care is also separate from TRICARE’s ECHO respite and ECHO Home Health Care (EHHC) respite programs, both with their own eligibility requirements.

Getting the most benefit from EFMP

Families enrolled in EFMP can get the most benefit from EFMP by contacting their installation’s Family Support office to:

  • Connect with the Family Support office at the new duty station to facilitate services and supports prior to a PCS
  • Locate resources at the state and local levels, such as civilian respite programs and disability-specific events
  • Identify state and federal benefits for which the enrolled family member may be eligible, such as Medicaid waivers, Vocational Rehabilitation, and scholarships for individuals with disabilities

The DoD developed the EFMP Family Support Feedback Tool as a method for families who have accessed their installation’s EFMP Family Support to provide feedback about their experiences. This information applies to the DoD’s Office of Special Needs’ policy development and program improvements for all branches of services.

Download the EFMP Enrollment Checklist.

Learn More about EFMP

This is part of a two-part series on this topic of the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). This article continues from Part 1: What Makes a Military Family Exceptional?

STOMP (Specialized Training of Military Parents) provides information and resources to military families, individuals with disabilities, and both military and civilian professionals serving military families enrolled in EFMP. Register for upcoming STOMP workshops and webinars to learn more about the lifespan of benefits available to military families under federal law and military programs.

Military OneSource is an official DoD website and a information hub for all aspects of military life. EFMP & Me, a companion website managed by Military OneSource, organizes hands-on tools, federal and state information, military and civilian services and resources, and related supports and programs in one place.

Additional Resources

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), Part 1: What Makes a Military Family Exceptional?

A Brief Overview

  • This is part one of a two-part series on this topic of the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). This article continues in Part 2: How Does EFMP Benefit Military Families?
  • Every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces is required to have a program for dependents of active-duty service members (ADSMs) with special medical or educational needs called the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP).
  • The Coast Guard is the only branch of service that uses a different name for their program – the Special Needs Program (SNP).
  • Enrollment is mandatory for all dependents of active-duty service members who have a special medical or educational need, regardless of the dependent’s age.
  • The two standardized enrollment forms are available on Military OneSource and, where available, on branch-specific websites.
  • Enrollment support is available on installation at family support centers.

Full Article

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) is a mandatory program for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces that helps military dependents with special medical or educational needs. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Space Force each have an Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). The Coast Guard, which operates under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, has a similar program called the Special Needs Program (SNP).

Purpose and Intent

The purpose of the EFMP is to –

  • identify dependents of servicemembers with special education or medical needs,
  • make sure the family’s needs are considered during the assignment process,
  • connect families with resources and assistance wherever they are assigned, and
  • assist with questions, concerns, and resources.

Although the purpose of EFMP and SNP are the same across all branches of service, there are some differences with names, procedures, and forms. There are also differences by installation, such as the availability of respite care providers and services provided by EFMP Family Support.

Eligibility

Enrollment in EFMP is mandatory for eligible dependents of active-duty service members (ASDMs). It is not an age-limited or age-specific program; dependent children and adults, including spouses, incapacitated adults (unmarried adult children with disabilities, parents and parents-in-law, and other adult dependents), must be enrolled in EFMP if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have special medical needs, including chronic and/or mental health conditions, that require ongoing treatment from medical specialists.
  • Have significant behavioral health concerns.
  • Are eligible for or receive early intervention services (EIS) through an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for infants and toddlers (ages 0-3).
  • Are eligible for or receive special education services through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for students aged 3 through 21.

National Guard and Reserve personnel with family members who have special medical or educational needs may be eligible during the time period when the service member is called for active-duty orders under Title 10 (10 U.S.C.).

Enrollment

Enrollment in EFMP or SNP begins with two enrollment forms that are available for download from Military OneSource:

  • DD Form 2792, “Family Member Medical Summary”: This form must be completed by the family member’s TRICARE-authorized primary care provider. This can be either the primary care manager or a specialty care provider.
  • DD Form 2792-1, “Special Education/Early Intervention Summary”: The instructions state that the child’s IFSP or IEP must also be provided with this form. If the child has an IFSP, is not yet enrolled in school, or is home-schooled, the parents may complete and sign the fields reserved for the educational authority.

Medical providers often require a separate appointment for completing the EFMP paperwork. Ask about the provider’s policy for completing paperwork and how to submit the forms before the visit while scheduling the appointment. The family member’s TRICARE plan and how the provider bills the appointment will determine whether there will be a copay for the visit.

Although all branches of service use the same standardized forms, some of the services have developed website platforms for families to submit the forms electronically.

Save time in the future by keeping a copy of the completed enrollment forms and IFSP or IEP in your home records system. Never give away your last copy!

Help with Enrollment

If this is the first time the family has submitted the EFMP forms, it is a good idea to first take them to the branch-specific military and family support centers on installations for review, including:

Reserve components also have branch-specific military and family support centers.  Learn more about what these programs offer and links to the branch-specific Reserve programs in this article from Military OneSource.

Find your EFMP enrollment or family support. In the drop-down menu for “Program or service”, select “EFMP Family Support” or “EFMP Enrollment”. Then, select your location from the drop-down menu labeled “Location based on”.

Download the EFMP Enrollment Checklist

Learn More about EFMP

This is part of a two-part series on this topic of the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). This article continues in Part 2: How Does EFMP Benefit Military Families?

Additional Resources

Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3), Part 2: Supporting Appropriate Placement and Inclusion of Military Families 

A Brief Overview 

  • This is part of a three-part series on this topic of MIC3, which continues from Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3), Part 1: The Impact of MIC3 on Military Families. The third part of the series is Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3), Part 3: How MIC3 Protects Academic Progress toward Graduation.  
  • MIC3 allows military parents to hand-carry “unofficial” (temporary) school records from the sending school to give to the receiving school for enrollment. 
  • The sending school must provide official records within ten business days of the receiving school’s request. 
  • If students have not been immunized, they have 30 days from enrollment to get the required shots or receive the first shot in a series. 
  • If a child was enrolled and attending kindergarten at the sending school, they must be allowed to enroll and continue at the receiving school, regardless of the school’s age requirement.  
  • A military child can keep going to the school in the school or district they have been attending, even if the person they are living with is in a different school district. 
  • MIC3 allows flexibility concerning extracurricular activities to include military children even if they can’t meet an application deadline. 

Full Article 

The Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3, pronounced “mick three”) is the more commonly used name for the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children. MIC3’s rules provide consistent guidelines for how public schools address the most common challenges military-connected students experience during a PCS (permanent change of station, the military’s term for “relocation”). Washington codified MIC3 into state policy as RCW 28A.705.010.  

Enrollment 

MIC3 seeks to prevent students from losing academic time with enrollment provisions that address: 

  • Unofficial or hand-carried records. 
  • Official records and transcripts. 
  • Immunization requirements. 
  • Kindergarten and first-grade entrance ages. 

Unofficial or Hand-Carried Records 

MIC3 allows military parents to hand-carry photocopied or “unofficial” (temporary) school records from the sending school to give to the receiving school. Waiting for the original official transcripts can be time-consuming and not beneficial to the student since receiving official documentation from another state or overseas can take weeks. Under MIC3, the receiving school must use the unofficial records for the child’s enrollment. The unofficial records must include attendance records, academic information, and grade placement (part of the primary documents package). 

Official Records and Transcripts 

It is the receiving school’s responsibility to immediately request an official set of records (transcripts) from the sending school. The sending school must send out the official records within ten business days, with extensions allowed for school breaks. After school staff return from a break, the official records must be provided within ten business days.  

Immunization Requirements 

If a child hasn’t already had the immunizations (shots to protect against certain diseases) the receiving school requires, the student has 30 days from enrollment to get the shots. If the child needs a series of shots to be immunized, they must get the first shot within 30 days. The school may require a negative test for tuberculosis, which is not an immunization and, therefore, not covered by MIC3. 

Kindergarten and First Grade Entrance Ages 

When enrolling a child in school, MIC3 enables them to enter the grade they were in at the sending school. Suppose a child was enrolled and already attending kindergarten at their previous school. In that case, the new school must allow the child to enroll in kindergarten even if the age requirement differs. Suppose the child should be starting first grade. In that case, MIC3 says that if the child completed the previous grade in the sending school (including kindergarten), they could enroll in the next grade at the receiving school, even if the age requirements differ. The letter or transcript from the sending school must show the child’s attendance in kindergarten if the concerns is about kindergarten eligibility. 

Eligibility 

Regarding eligibility, MIC3 provides guidance on the issues of: 

  • Special power of attorney with guardianship. 
  • Extracurricular activities. 

Special Power of Attorney with Guardianship 

During deployments and other military mobilizations, children of servicemembers may live with another family member, non-custodial parent, or guardian through a Military Family Care Plan. Under MIC3, a military child can keep going to the school in the school or district they have been attending, even if the person they are living with is in a different school district. The school district cannot charge local tuition for living outside the district under these circumstances, except for optional programs offered by the school or district. The person taking care of the child will be responsible for transporting the student to the school while the child resides out-of-district. At enrollment, if not given to the school earlier, the parent or guardian must be provided with the Military Family Care Plan, Special Powers of Attorney, and/or custody orders. 

Extracurricular Activities 

States and local schools can be flexible so military children can be in sports and extracurricular activities, even if the child can’t meet an application deadline, including tryouts, seasonal conditioning, and other prerequisites instituted by the district or team supervisor. The child will still have to meet the eligibility standards for the activity, such as auditioning for sports or a music program. MIC3 requires that school and district programs make “reasonable efforts” to allow military children to participate in extracurricular activities, but this does not include holding open or creating additional spaces. MIC3 does not apply to state athletic associations, like travel teams or sportsman clubs, which are not a part of state or district education systems. 

Support with MIC3-Related Issues 

Parents can use this Step-by-Step Checklist to resolve issues that fall under the provisions of MIC3. For additional support, parents may contact their School Liaison, Parent Center, or MIC3 State Commissioner. As the parent center of Washington State, PAVE provides training to military-connected families, individuals with disabilities, and professionals through the STOMP program. Parents seeking individualized support may contact PAVE through the Get Help Form

Learn More about MIC3 

This article is part of a three-part series on the topic of MIC3. Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission, Part 1: The Impact of MIC3 on Military Families introduces the scope and purpose of MIC3. This article outlines MIC3’s guidelines for how public schools address challenges related to enrollment and eligibility. Part 3: How MIC3 Protects Academic Progress toward Graduation explores MIC3’s placement, attendance, and graduation provisions. 

Additional Information