Purple Up! Celebrating the Month of the Military Child

A Brief Overview

  • Month of the Military Child (MOMC) is a chance to show your support for military-connected children and youth.
  • Purple symbolizes military children from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Wear purple (Purple Up!) during April to show your support for military children, especially on April 15th, National Purple Up Day.

April, the Month of the Military Child, celebrates military-connected children and youth. They show an ability to adapt in the face of unique challenges. They make sacrifices while their service members protect our nation’s safety.

Purple is the official color of the military child. It’s a combination of all the colors of the U.S. Armed Force: Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard blues, Army green, and Marine Corps red. Programs and activities that are similar across all branches of service are called “purple.”

Wear purple to show your support and appreciation for what they do!

History of Month of the Military Child

In 1986, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger created the first Month of the Military Child. This annual April tradition became a nationally recognized celebration of military children’s resiliency when faced with stressful situations, such as frequent moves, long separations from deployed family members, living in foreign countries, and adapting to different schools.

In 2011, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Military Youth and Family Program began Purple Up! For Military Kids. It’s a specific day to wear purple as visible support for military-connected children during Month of the Military Child. States, local governments, and Department of Defense programs celebrate Purple Up days on various dates during April. National Purple Up Day is April 15th.

Military Children in Our Communities

A Department of Defense 2020 Demographics Report* showed 1,621,473 military children in Active Duty and Selected Reserve families across the world. Washington State has 40,881 military-connected children and youth between birth and eighteen years of age. Military-connected children are neighbors. Many of them live and go to school near military installations. If their service member is in the National Guard or other reserves, they may live anywhere!

Military children come from many different backgrounds. Being in the military is different for each family. Differences are as typical of military life as similar experiences.

Author Lynn K. Hall said, “The defining word for the military family is change; change is what their lives are about.”  On average, military families move every two to three years. Military children change schools an average of six to nine times between kindergarten and their high school graduation. Despite frequent changes, military children show remarkable resiliency like the dandelion plant.

Dandelions are the official flower of the military child. They take root and bloom wherever they are planted. Dandelion seeds fly on the wind to destinations all over the globe. Dandelions symbolize happiness, joy, perseverance, endurance, and hope – traits shown by military children.

Show Your Support for Military Children

Thank military children for their sacrifices and recognize their courage during Month of the Military Child.
Families and individuals can:

  • Organize or take a group picture with everyone wearing purple to share on social media with the hashtags #PurpleUp or #MOMC.
  • Use any of the ideas and resources below for businesses and schools.
  • Look up WA State Veterans organizations on the internet and social media. They will often post local events supporting and celebrating military-connected children.
  • Military installations often post MOMC events on their social media pages. You may be able to go, volunteer, or share on your pages.

Businesses can add a temporary banner or image to their website or social media pages. Find images and text at the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission’s (MIC3) website.

Parent-School associations and school staff can celebrate military-connected students by:

  • Wearing a purple ribbon and inviting military children to share their experiences within their comfort levels.
  • Encouraging other students to “purple up” at a specified team practice or event.
  • Mentioning Purple Up Day in the morning announcements, school message boards, and bulletin boards throughout the campus.
  • Using a world map in the classroom to pinpoint where students have traveled, including highly mobile military students.
  • Sending a letter home to all parents inviting them to provide a baby picture for a hallway or corridor “Guess Who” display of military children.

You might use suggestions from the Military Child Education Coalition and Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3).

Go to a STOMP (Specialized Training of Military Parents) workshop or webinar to learn more about supporting military children in the classroom, community, and medical settings. Share about STOMP, a program of PAVE, as a resource to educate and empower military parents of children with special needs.

* Published by the Department of Defense and Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy (ODASD (MC&FP).

Resources:

STOMP has developed printable worksheets in honor of the Month of the Military Child:

  • Finding Your Tribe: a questionnaire to help children make friends and develop community after a move.
  • PCS Bingo: a tool to help a relocating family get to know their new community, one adventure at a time!
  • Friendships Across the Miles: activities for maintaining close friendships wherever military life takes you.
  • Sound Your Cadence Call: a worksheet for developing an individualized, confidence-boosting cadence.

The Air Force School Liaison Program provides 50 Ways to Celebrate Month of the Military Child.

Military Child Education Coalition and Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3) release updated toolkits for the Month of the Military Child every year.

Handout celebrating military children to discover various ways to celebrate military children throughout April.

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

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

Starting School: When and How to Enroll a Student in School

A Brief Overview

  • Compulsory attendance begins at 8 years of age and continues until the age of 18 unless the student qualifies for certain exceptions.
  • Infants and toddlers receiving early intervention services may be eligible to start preschool as early as 3 years old to continue receiving specialized instruction and related services.
  • A student aged 4 years old by August 31 may be screened for Transition to Kindergarten (TK), a state program designed for students who need additional support to be successful in kindergarten the following year.
  • A child must have turned 5 years old by August 31 to enroll in kindergarten, and 6 years old to enroll in first grade.
  • When registering your student for school, contact the school to find out what documents are required in addition to those listed in this article.
  • Students with a condition that may require medication or treatment

Full Article

If your child has never enrolled in school, back to school season can be a confusing time. This article answers frequently asked questions about school entrance age, compulsory education, and the enrollment process.  Note that “enrollment” and “registration” are used interchangeably regarding the steps leading up to a student starting school and within the OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) website.

At what age are children required to attend school?

Federal law protects the rights of children and youth to receive a publicly funded education. This is called compulsory education, or compulsory attendance. The age at which a child must begin school varies by state. In Washington state, children must begin attending school full-time at the age of 8 and continue attending regularly until the age of 18 (RCW 28A.225.010).

There are some exceptions to compulsory attendance, including if a child is –

  • enrolled in a private school, extension program, or residential school operated by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) or the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).
  • enrolled in home-based instruction that meets State supervision requirements.
  • excused by the school district superintendent for physical or mental incapacity.
  • incarcerated in an adult correctional facility.
  • temporarily excused upon the request of the parents when the excused absences meet additional requirements under Washington state law (RCW 28A.225.010).

Compulsory attendance is required in Washington until the age of 18, unless the student is 16 years or older and meets additional criteria for emancipation, graduation, or certification (RCW 28A.225.010).

At what age can a student begin attending school?

Students with special needs or disabilities may qualify for early education programs. An infant or toddler with a disability or developmental delay receiving early intervention services may be eligible to start preschool between the ages of 3-5 to continue receiving specialized instruction and related services through the public school district until they reach the minimum enrollment age for kindergarten. Washington’s Transition to Kindergarten (TK) program screens 4-year-olds with a birthday by August 31st to identify those in need of additional preparation to be successful in kindergarten.

Parents may choose to enroll a child in kindergarten at 5 years old, if the birthday occurred before August 31st of the same year, but kindergarten is not required under compulsory education. Similarly, a child must be 6 years of age to enroll in first grade.

Families have the right to choose whether to enroll their students in school until the child turns 8 years old and compulsory attendance applies.

How do I enroll my student in school?

If this is the first time your child will attend this school, call the school and ask what you must bring with you to enroll your child and the best time to go to the school for enrollment. Consider that things will be busiest right before the school day starts, during lunch breaks, and as school is ending. Also find out if there is an on-site school nurse and the best time to reach that person.

A parent or legal guardian must go with the student to the school for registration with the required information and documents. According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)’s Learning by Choice Guide, most schools require the following at a minimum:

  • Proof of age (e.g., birth certificate or passport).
  • Health history, including name, address, and phone number of child’s doctor and dentist.
  • Proof of residency (e.g., utility bill, tax statement).
  • Parent or guardian’s telephone numbers.
  • Child’s immunization records.

If your child has attended another school, also provide:

  • Withdrawal form or report card from the last school attended.
  • Expulsion statement.

Enrollment for Military-Connected Students

A Washington law passed in 2019 (HB 1210-S.SL, School Enrollment-Nonresident Children from Military Families) allows advance enrollment of children of active-duty service members with official military orders transferring or pending transfer into the state. This means that qualifying children must be conditionally enrolled in a specific school and program and registered for courses. The parent must provide proof of residence within fourteen days of the arrival date listed in the military orders before the school will finalize the enrollment. The address on the proof of residency may be a temporary on-base detailing facility; a purchased or leased residence, or a signed purchase and sale or lease agreement; or military housing, including privatized and off-base housing. The child will be conditionally enrolled and registered for courses.

Schools are responsible for the health and safety of students during all school-related activities. If a student has a condition that may require medication or treatment while at school, Washington state law (RCW 28A.210.320 and WAC 392-380) requires additional steps before the student may begin attending school. The parent or guardian must:

  1. Provide the school with a written prescription and/or treatment plan from a licensed health care provider,
  2. Provide the prescribed medication and/or equipment outlined in the treatment plan, and
  3. Create an Individualized Healthcare Plan with the school nurse.

Schools may develop their own forms, so contact your child’s intended school to get the correct forms and provide complete, accurate information.

Download How to Enroll a Student in School Handout

How to Enroll a Student in School Checklist To download the fillable form and get access to the clickable links, download the PDF

Additional Considerations for Military-Connected Students

Children with parents in the uniformed services may be covered by the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children, also known as MIC3, was created with the hope that students will not lose academic time during military-related relocation, obtain an appropriate placement, and be able to graduate on time. MIC3 provides uniform policy guidance for how public schools address common challenges military-connected students experience when relocating, including several issues related to enrollment. Learn more about how to resolve Compact-related issues with this MIC3 Step-by-Step Checklist.

Families who are new to Washington can learn more about navigating special education and related services in this article, Help for Military Families: Tips to Navigate Special Education Process in Washington State.

Additional Information

Five Tips for a Smooth PCS

Military families are likely to switch schools more often than other families. This can require learning new rules and finding new resources. To help plan, here are five valuable tips for a smooth PCS (permanent change of station, which is the military language for “relocation”) with a special educational or medical needs child.

Tip 1: Organize your files.

Records are critical for planning and stability. Accessing records once you have left a duty station is far more complex than getting copies to take with you. Keeping track of your child’s records can make the transition to a new assignment far easier. With your child’s information and records organized and up to date, you can quickly find any new trends, needs, or program changes to consider when you PCS.

  • Save copies of evaluations, educational plans and programs, work samples, and behavior plans.
  • Monitor regression by comparing student work samples and grades before, during, and after your PCS.
  • Note what has worked to support your student through previous transitions and share these successes with the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), Individualized Education Program (IEP), or Section 504 team.

If your student comes from a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school, you may also have records and evaluations from a Student Support Team (SST) or Case Study Committee (CSC).

Tip 2: Know your resources.

When you are moving to a new place, it is important to know who can help you. Contact the School Liaison and Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) family service office as soon as possible. They have useful information about things that can support your child’s health, well-being, and quality of life, like assignment locations, schools, housing, and other essentials. In your new state, you can also reach out to the Family Voices program. They can help you apply for public benefits such as extra money (SSI) and healthcare (Medicaid). It is also good to know your child’s rights as a military student when switching schools between states. Learn about the protections under the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and use this Step-by-Step Checklist for resolving school issues with the Interstate Compact.

Tip 3: Keep open lines of communication.

Building strong communication links with your child’s teachers and other school officials can be critical. Remember to keep track of notes, emails, texts, and conversations. Always follow up on agreements with a note summarizing what was agreed to and any timelines. Building a solid relationship with your child’s teachers will help you address potential difficulties while they are minor issues and build trust among all team members. Discuss all the efforts that are helping your child. Keep communication lines open by responding promptly and respectfully, and reach out to school staff with positive feedback, as well as for problem-solving concerns.

Tip 4: Ask questions.

The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and Individualized Education Program (IEP), or Section 504 Accommodations Plan, are the heart of how your child will receive services, accommodations, and modifications tailored to their unique needs. Never feel that you shouldn’t ask questions. Terms can change from place to place, but what the service includes will follow strict guidelines set up through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Since you will be the single consistent factor in your child’s educational career, the more you know, the better you can collaborate and plan within the IEP or 504 teams. Locate and contact the Parent Training and Information (PTI) center in your new state to assist you in navigating this process. Students and families in Washington State may contact PAVE for one-on-one support, information, and training through our Get Help request form.

Tip 5: Include your student.

All people need the ability to understand and communicate their needs and wants. The ultimate goal for our children is to help them become self-advocates to the best extent they are capable and comfortable. Providing them with tools early and on an ongoing basis will help them plan for their future. In the long run, it will help them to be the driver of services they need and want.

These are just a few tips on navigating the special education and medical systems when PCS’ing. If you want to learn more, register for an upcoming STOMP workshop or webinar.

Temporary Caregivers of Military Children: Guide to Essential Information

If you are a grandparent, other relative, or family friend taking care of children while their parent or parents are deployed or on other duty, this guide to essential information is intended to offer you help and resources.  It contains useful information about military benefits that provide help with schools, medical care and supports and services for disabilities (sometimes called “special needs”). Medical care, supports and services include benefits for what some people call “invisible disabilities” such as ADHD, developmental disabilities including autism, learning difficulties, and mental health disorders. It also includes information on legal and financial assistance through the military and through civilian programs.

 Top Two Essential Documents:

 These two documents are necessary for you to act on behalf of the child in situations where a parent would usually act, such as giving permission for medical care or picking up a prescription, enrolling a child in school or daycare, and making decisions when the child’s parent cannot be in contact.

 Whether you live near or far away from the family’s current installation, you will need:

  1. Military ID cards: each child age 10 or older needs to be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System and have a current ID card. Caregivers do not get their own ID cards and will need the child’s ID for installation access, medical benefits, and military-subsidized childcare.
  2. Power of Attorney: a document giving an individual legal authority to act in certain situations on behalf of another individual. In these cases, the service member is giving a temporary authority to the designated relative or other caregiver (you) to care for their child.
    1. How a service member can get and send a Power of Attorney if they have already left for deployment (note-this is a blog post written by a military spouse, not an “official” document—but it has clear directions.)

Documents to get onto the installation:

If you live nearby, you may need to get onto the installation for a child’s school, medical care, child care, military-subsidized shopping, recreational programs, religious services, visits with friends, etc.

  • The child’s military ID (needed for age 10 and above)
  • Acceptable picture ID for you (contact Visitor Information at the installation for what is accepted)
  • Power of Attorney giving you authorization to make decisions on behalf of the child in the absence of his or her parents (school, medical, child care, other situations requiring parental authority)
  • Agent letter of authorization signed by the installation’s commanding officer. The military parent or parents can request this letter through the ID card office at their installation.

What other documents might I need?

Documents for a Deployed Service Member’s Designated Family Caregiver

Resources specifically for grandparents and other kinship caregivers and guardians:

Military and Civilian Resources for Temporary Caregivers:

Education

  • Parent Centers in each state work with families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities age birth to 26 and help parents and other caregivers participate effectively in their child’s education and development.

Childcare

  • Child Care Aware of America (to locate military-subsidized and civilian child care)
  • Call 2-1-1 to find out about local affordable child care options
  • YMCA (some YMCAs have special arrangements for military children)
  • Before-and-after school programs through the local school district
  • Administration for Children and Families (US Dept. of Health and Human Services) child care programs that use federal money to offer lower-cost child care (Head Start is one such program)
  • State programs

Medical (including Autism Services and Respite Care)

Financial Help with Living Expenses

School Support Plans for Deployment-Tips for Parents

Why do schools need to know when a parent deploys? 

Your children spend a large portion of their day in school, so teachers often notice changes or new behaviors. The value of parents and schools partnering to support military-connected children with the stressors of deployment is significant. As you know, having a parent away for a lengthy time places extra stress on children and the at-home parent, siblings and/or other care givers. No matter how often a military parent is deployed, and no matter how well-prepared a child might be for a parent’s absence, children with disabilities may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of stress on their physical and emotional well-being.

How can you support your child at school during deployment? 

Set up a meeting

 Communication about an upcoming deployment is key and setting up a meeting will help prepare the school. For example, you can request a meeting with your child’s teacher shortly after you find out about the upcoming deployment. If the separation is scheduled to start during summer vacation, you may want to book that conference as soon as possible after school begins. If your child is in middle or high school, meeting with every teacher might be a consideration as information may not reach each teacher who interacts with your child.

 When meeting with your child’s teachers, you can let them know that there are some areas of information you won’t be able to share with them, due to operational security concerns regarding mission-related details. Your Parent Center staff will be aware that you have these limits on what information can be shared and can support you in planning your meetings with school personnel.

Areas that can steer clear of mission-related operational security include:

  • Timeframe- a general idea of beginning and ending dates
  • Past experiences- if your child has excessive stress during a previous deployment or their behavior communicates their concern for the absence of the parent and/or changes in routine with deployment
  • Coping mechanisms- sharing strategies that have helped your child cope with stress; teachers may be able to continue those practices at school. For example, if your child finds it comforting to look at a photo of their deployed parent, a teacher may be willing to allow them to keep a copy in their backpack or desk.

 Develop a plan

Working with your child’s teachers, plan ahead to craft a process to deal with situations if they arise. All of us respond differently to stress in different environments, including our children.  This means your child might appear to be perfectly fine at home and may be struggling and/or acting out at school.  Working with your child’s teachers to develop a plan of action if he or she appears to be stressed out or starts behaving differently in school will help.

These plans will be individually designed for your child, but some options could be:

  • Access to a counselor or therapist – such as Military Family Life Counselors ADD military URL
  • Tutoring – Tutoring.com provides free 24/7 homework assistance for military families.
  • Staying active – such as participation in recess, physical education, and after-school sports
  • Breaks at school-such as leaving a classroom for a while to go to a supervised safe space, like a library or resource room. Identifying these options – who, where and when – will give your child and teacher options for their health and well-being.
  • Sharing their feelings and experiences at school under the guidance of qualified professionals

Connecting with the staff at your local Parent Center.

There are nearly 100 Parent Training and Information (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) in the US and its Territories.  All exist to:

  • Work with families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, birth to 26
  • Help parents participate effectively in their children’s education and development
  • Partner with professionals and policy makers to improve outcomes for all children with disabilities

While the services at or how each Parent Center works with families varies, this network of trained staff helps at no charge.  Staff are also family members, often parents, siblings or caregivers of a child with disabilities and/or special health care needs.  You can connect with your local parent center for training, support and individual assistance. This might include adding all, or parts of the “deployment plan” to your child’s IEP or other education plan.

If the school, or individual teachers, don’t have much experience with children and deployment, you can share this resource with them:

Educators’ Guide to the Military Child During Deployment (from the US Department of Education)

You can also get help in working with your child’s school and teachers from the School Liaison office at your installation, or from the Family Assistance Coordinator in your state if your service member is in the National Guard.

You can find the School Liaison office through your installation’s Family Services or Community Services Center; Family Assistance professionals can be located through this article on Military Onesource. Scroll down to “Family Assistance Centers” at the bottom of the article.

Find Civilian Services for Your Child With a Disability When You Leave the Military

A guide to finding civilian supports and services when your service member separates or retires from the military if you have a child (including an adult dependent child) with disabilities. If you are PCSing to a “forever” home location, it includes resource finders available across the United States and Territories.

As you read down the columns, you will see references to Parent Centers. Parent Centers are funded by Office of Special Education (OSEP), US Department of Education to support parents of children age birth to 26 with disabilities. If you are reading this article through the website for PAVE (*******) or through their Pipeline newsletter, you are in the right place because PAVE is the Parent Training and Information Center (Parent Center) for Washington State.

 You can also use resources at the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR), a national center serving Parent Centers and families with online information. According to the CPIR:

“There are nearly 100 Parent Training and Information Centers PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) in the US and Territories. These Centers perform a variety of direct services for children and youth with disabilities, families, professionals, and other organizations that support them. Some of the activities include:

  • Working with families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, birth to 26
  • Helping parents participate effectively in their children’s education and development
  • Partnering with professionals and policy makers to improve outcomes for all children with disabilities” – https://www.parentcenterhub.org/the-parent-center-network/

Quick-find links:

Children’s Benefits or Services
Active Duty
or Active Reserve

Keep Benefit or Service?
(retiring after 20 yrs service)

Equivalent Civilian Resources

TRICARE Medical Coverage (may include case management, mental health, hospice care)

Yes, but there may be extra financial costs

Private insurance (useful article at the Military Wallet website)
Medicaid  NOTE:  your child can be enrolled in both Medicaid and TRICARE

TRICARE for children after age 21, up to age 26 (including college students)

Yes-up to age 23 if in college (or up to graduation); after which and up to age 26, child may be eligible for TRICARE Young Adult, which charges premiums, has co-pays and deductibles.

Private insurance

Medicaid NOTE:  your child can be enrolled in both Medicaid and TRICARE

TRICARE benefits after age 26 through secondary dependency

Yes

Medicaid NOTE:  your child can be enrolled in both Medicaid and TRICARE

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (in some states, receiving SSI helps determine Medicaid eligibility)

Private insurance

Yes, but only if the service member retires, as opposed to leaving the military prior to fulfilling the terms of service for retirement. If the service member leaves without retiring, try the resources in the right-hand column.

Medicaid NOTE:  your child can be enrolled in both Medicaid and TRICARE

Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver * NOTE:  your child can be enrolled in both Medicaid and TRICARE

Autism resources by State (Easter Seals)

State Agencies on Developmental or Intellectual Disabilities

Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) provides supplemental support and services not available through TRICARE’s regular coverage. Some benefits similar to Medicaid HCBS waivers

No

Medicaid HCBS Waiver * NOTE:  your child can be enrolled in both Medicaid and TRICARE

Respite Care through ECHO and other programs

No, but check with the community family center at a local installation to identify any military-family support organizations which may offer funding or locator services.

Medicaid HCBS Waiver * NOTE:  your child can be enrolled in both Medicaid and TRICARE

Lifespan Respite (WA)

EasterSeals Respite locator: https://archrespite.org/respitelocator

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Family Support (help with navigating military and some civilian service systems)

Yes, at the discretion of installation

PAVE (Parent Center, Washington State)

Parent Centers

No

Private: not subsidized, but can use the directory: ChildCareAware.org. If a family has income restrictions, many States have subsidized care through Department of Health and Human Services (or equivalent)

School Liaison Office for help navigating school systems and services, especially under MIC3 (Interstate Compact)

No, except that the Interstate Compact covers your child for one year after you retire

PAVE (Parent Center, Washington State)

Parent Centers (other states)

Military Family Resources for Youth and Young Adults Transitioning from High School

The links below will help you find resources for employment or post-high school education in any state to which you may move.

NEW:

Directory-University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs)

Directory of LEND programs

Employment

Employment Center at your installation (check out the installation website-under Morale, Welfare and Recreation)

List of Vocational Rehabilitation agencies by State (location, contact information, websites) -US Department of Labor

careeronestop>Find Local Help  -US Department of Labor.  This extensive site is mobile-friendly.

Other interesting links include the Apprenticeship Office Finder, and the Native American Program Finder.

Employment and training helpline at careeronestop:

1-877-US2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627) TTY: 1-877-889-5627

Bureau of Labor Statistics K-12 Student Resources: interactive tools for major metropolitan areas, regions and States on the economy and employment; designed for student use.  -Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor

College

Education Center at your installation (check out the installation website-under Morale, Welfare and Recreation)

Community College finder (from careeronestop)

If the military-connected youth you’re assisting has intellectual disabilities or autism, Think College has nation-wide resources for youth who would like to attend college and their parents.

What’s Happening in Your State? Interactive map or table for learning about activities, policies, legislation, and contact information about postsecondary education for students with intellectual disability, by State. Includes links to relevant websites.

Find a College: interactive map with information on 265 college programs for students with intellectual disability by State, plus the How to Think College Guide to Conducting a College Search (download).

Government Benefits Agencies

Interactive Map of State Medicaid and CHIP Profiles (Medicaid.gov): Information includes a State’s Demonstrations and Waivers.

Social Security Office Locator by Zip Code

Links for Military Families

Autism Care Demonstration – The TRICARE Comprehensive Autism Care Demonstration (Autism Care Demo) covers applied behavior analysis (ABA) services for all eligible TRICARE beneficiaries diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Occupational therapy, Physical therapy, Psychological services and many other services are covered by TRICARE for beneficiaries with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) – The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is a civilian agency of the United States Department of Defense that manages schools for military-connected children in the United States and overseas at American military bases worldwide. DoDEA operates 164 schools in 8 districts located in 11 foreign countries, seven states, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) – ECHO may help some military families who have a family member with special needs. ECHO focuses on integrated sets of services and supplies beyond those available through TRICARE programs. Services are intended to reduce the disabling effects of a beneficiary’s condition. ECHO is only available as a supplement to TRICARE programs. If services or supplies are available through a beneficiary’s TRICARE plan, they won’t be covered under ECHO.  

Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission – The Compact addresses key educational transition issues encountered by military families including enrollment, placement, attendance, eligibility and graduation. Children of active duty members of the uniformed services, National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders, commissioned officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Unites States Public Health Service, and members or veterans who are medically discharged or retired for one year are eligible for assistance under the Compact.

Military OneSource – Military OneSource is a Department of Defense funded program that operates as both a call center and website, providing resources to the entire military community anywhere in the world at no cost.

The Respite Care Question for Military Children – The parents sitting in front of you are desperate for respite care. You’re very knowledgeable about respite care options in their community, but you’re not certain those will work out for this family – they’re a military family and might encounter difficulties. You’ve also heard there are military programs that might help this family, but neither you nor the parents know what they are or how to sign up for them. 

TRICARE  – TRICARE is the health care program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families. Most TRICARE health plans meet the requirements for minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act. TRICARE offers supplemental programs tailored specifically to beneficiary health concerns or conditions. Some have specific eligibility requirements based on beneficiary category, plan or status. Some are limited to a certain number of participants or a certain geographic location.

Secondary Dependency – There are times when your dependents may include more than your spouse and children.
These added dependents can increase your financial responsibilities. If you’re responsible for the financial support of other family members, you may be eligible to add them as your secondary dependents.