Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) is a mandatory* Department of Defense program that helps military dependents with special needs. The Coast Guard, which operates under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security has a similar program called the Special Needs Program, or SNP.

* EFMP is mandatory, primarily so a family member’s needs may be considered during the duty assignment process. However, some families do not enroll because they believe the program requirements are not worth the benefits to them, or they perceive the program as limiting the service member’s duty assignment options, and thus his or her career.

EFMP Family Support staff, along with an installation’s School Liaison, are the primary points of contact for parent centers for holding installation-based trainings, access to meet with families on installations, and insider information about installation support programs and family engagement.

Note: although the purpose of the EFMP and the 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 funding.

EFMP Functions

  • Identification and enrollment is a collaborative effort among military-connected health care providers and EFMP staff:
    • Example: a child is identified as having a particular disability by the family’s regular medical provider who refers the family to the EFMP enrollment office.
  • Military duty assignment coordination: once a family member is enrolled in the program, future duty assignments for the military service member are considered in the light of that family member’s medical or educational needs.
    • For example, if a child is enrolled in EFMP due to the need for speech and occupational therapy, the service member’s projected duty station will be screened to see if these services are available.

Notes: although the family member’s needs are considered in the assignment process, military requirements take priority for assignment decisions and there are no guarantees that services and supports are available at a new duty location.

The EFMP assignment process does not consider the availability of educational instruction, supports and services under an IEP as part of the assignment process, only military benefits and programs such as medical coverage, respite care, ABA therapy, mental health care and the like. It is also clear that a service being “available” does not mean the family won’t encounter a waiting list for these services, or providers who are no longer taking clients or patients.

  • Family Support: this is the EFMP function which directly serves EFMP families and is the most common point of contact for parent centers. Staff are civilians who work for the military. Contact information for EFMP Family Support is available on [our Interactive Maps.]
    • Provides non-medical case management
    • Assists with navigating the Department of Defense medical, transport, legal, and counseling systems.
    • Provides information about local civilian services and supports
    • May arrange support groups, classes, and family events for the benefit of EFMP families assigned to their installation.
    • On some installations, EFMP Family Support may also provide access and financial support for respite care.

Who is eligible for EFMP?

Active duty personnel with family members who have special health* or educational needs may be eligible. National Guard and Reserve personnel with family members who have special health or educational needs may be eligible during the time period when the service member is called for active federal duty. For EFMP ROC (below), National Guard and Reserve family members may have a consultation without their service member being called to active duty.

*requiring specialized care beyond the level of their general practitioner

Getting enrolled in EFMP:

Enrollment typically begins with the family member’s health care provider. This can be either the primary care manager or a specialty care provider that is military-connected. For additional information regarding the EFMP, families can contact EFMP coordinators, EFMP liaisons, EFMP system navigators, or family resources coordinators depending on their branch of service. Coast Guard parents may contact a Family Special Needs Case Management Officer.

Getting the most benefit from EFMP

It’s important for families to contact the current installation’s EFMP Family Support Office in these situations:

  • To update the child’s EFMP file every three (3) years
  • The parent has new medical or educational information about their child
  • The service member is assigned to a new duty station (PCS) to make certain that paperwork on the Exceptional Family Member is up-to-date and to facilitate services and supports through the new duty station’s EFMP Family Support office.
  • Transportation needs for their child or youth enrolled in EFMP
  • Issues with military services and supports, or expected services and supports are not available
  • Finding resources at the state and local levels (including parent centers!)
  • Accessing state and federal benefits for which the Exceptional Family Member may be eligible

EFMP ONLINE AND BY PHONE FOR FAMILIES:

EFMP Navigation Checklist Tool  EFMP & ME -“EFMP & Me is here to help you effectively navigate through the Department of Defense’s vast network of services and support for families with special needs.”

EFMP ROC program

EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations” (EFMP ROC) is a new program that provides military families who have members with special health or educational needs with enhanced services.  Special needs consultants are available by appointment, via phone or video at no cost, and there is no limit to the number of appointments families can make.

  • Supplements installation-based EFMP Family Support
  • Highly useful for remote families such as National Guard and Reserve. The service member does not need to be called to active duty for these families to use EFMP ROC.
  • Extended-hour appointments add convenience
  • Can be used for cross-referrals to EFMP Family Support when a family plans a move to a new installation

Families can ask for assistance with:

  • Exploring education options
  • Special Education-will refer families to Parent Training and Information Centers (new!)
  • Healthcare and TRICARE (military) programs for individuals with disabilities
    • -including local medical care and services—with the support of a dedicated TRICARE specialist
  • Federal and state benefits for individuals with disabilities
  • Connecting to military and other child care, support groups, in-home care, and deployment support options
  • Special needs trusts and estate planning
  • Referrals to legal help for disability issues

Military families can connect with EFMP-ROC through Military OneSource or by calling 1-800-342-9647.  Appointments can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Consultants have extended (evening) hours for appointments.

MIC3-School Issues Covered by the Interstate Compact

This resource gives you details about situations covered by the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (“MIC3”).  Use it to help you decide if you can apply the Compact to resolve a school issue for your child. Then you can follow the Step-by-Step Checklist to use the Compact for your child’s situation.

Transferring records, enrollment, immunizations

The Compact allows military parents to hand-carry “unofficial” (temporary) school records from the sending school to give to the receiving school:

  • Unofficial records need to include attendance records, academic information, and grade placement
  • The sending school can charge you a reasonable fee for making the copies.
  • The receiving school must use the unofficial records for your child’s enrollment.
  • It’s the receiving school’s responsibility to immediately ask for an official set of records (transcript) from the sending school. The sending school must send out the official records within 10 days.
  • Immunizations (shots to protect against certain diseases): If your child hasn’t already had the shots the receiving school requires, you have 30 days to get the shots after the date of enrollment.
  • If your child needs a series of shots to be immunized, he or she must get the first shot in the series within the 30 days.

 Kindergarten or First Grade Starting Ages

If your child was enrolled and already attending Kindergarten in her old school, the new school must let her go to Kindergarten even if the age requirement is different.

  • If your child should be starting first grade, the Compact says that if your child completed the previous grade in the sending school (including Kindergarten) they can enroll in the next grade at the receiving school, even if the age requirements are different.
  • If you are enrolling your child during the school year, they can enter the school in the grade they were in at the sending school.

Additional information to give to the school:

  • Make sure the letter or transcript from the sending school shows your child’s attendance in Kindergarten, if the issue is about Kindergarten eligibility.

Special Education, Accommodations and Modifications

Parent Centers can help when you have an issue with your child’s IEP, Section 504 Plan, etc.  Parent Centers are federally-funded organizations in each State, District of Columbia, and US Territories. They work with families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, birth to 26. They will work with you, so you can resolve issues relating to your child’s disabilities. Parent Centers can help you whether your child attends a public school or a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school.

The Compact says that the receiving school shall follow the laws that apply to students getting special education services or students that have accommodations and modifications. These are federal laws that apply to every State and in Washington, DC.

This means that the receiving school follows your child’s current IEP, Section 504 or ADA Title II Plan. For an IEP, comparable (similar) services and supports are provided; for Section 504 or ADA Title II plans, reasonable accommodations or modifications are made to provide your child with equal access to education. In either case, the receiving school can evaluate your child later to see if their IEP, 504 or Title II Plan is still an appropriate placement for your child.

Additional information to give the school:

  • If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), or a Section 504 or ADA Title II plan, keep paper copies of the plan or program, service agreements, evaluations and progress reports. Keep records from non-school sources as well. Give them to the receiving school with the other school records.

Repeating courses

Under the Compact, receiving schools have flexibility to waive (not apply to your child) requirements for specific classes or courses needed for placement in the receiving school’s courses or programs.

Additional information to give the school:

  • Show that the class or classes your child took at the sending school cover the same, or very similar material as the one the receiving school wants them to take.

Example: The receiving school requires a Civics class in 7th grade. Your child took a class called “Federal, State and Local Government” in 6th grade at the sending school. Your child’s academic records should show that he or she took the 6th grade class. If more information is needed, the sending school could send information about the class to the receiving school about what material was covered in the 6th grade course.

You could contact the sending school directly or ask your School Liaison for help.

 Getting the right program or course placement 

Both Parent Centers and School Liaisons may be helpful with this concern.

  • Under the Compact, after enrollment, the receiving school must place your child in the appropriate courses or programs based on the courses and programs they were in at the sending school.
  • If the receiving school doesn’t have such a course or program, but another school in the same District does, the receiving school can let your child attend classes or programs where they are available.
  • The receiving school can evaluate your child later to see if they are eligible for the receiving school’s classes or programs, under the receiving school’s rules about eligibility.

Graduation Requirements (also see “Repeating Courses”)

  • The Compact says the receiving school shall waive (not apply to your child) specific courses needed for graduation if your child has satisfactorily completed similar coursework in another school district. If the receiving school doesn’t waive the requirement, they must give a “reasonable justification for denial”.

Additional information to give the school:

  • Show that the class or classes your child took at the sending school cover the same, or very similar material as the one the receiving school wants them to take.

Example: The receiving school requires three mathematics classes for graduation. At the sending school your child passed courses in Algebra, Geometry, and Everyday Math. The receiving school doesn’t offer Everyday Math but does offer a course called Applied Mathematics. Provide a comparison of the course descriptions from both the sending and receiving schools to show that your child has taken equivalent coursework. If more information is needed, the sending school could send information about the class to the receiving school about what material was covered.

You could contact the sending school directly or ask your School Liaison for help.

  • If your child already qualified to graduate from the sending school (all required coursework completed satisfactorily), and the receiving school does NOT waive their own required coursework, the receiving school must give him or her an “alternative means” of getting the required coursework so your child can graduate on time.
  • If your child transfers to the receiving school at the beginning of or during his or her Senior year, and even after all alternatives have been looked at, your child is still not eligible to graduate from the receiving school; then, if he or she is eligible to graduate from the sending school, the receiving school and sending school shall make sure your child gets a diploma from the sending school.
  • “Exit” exams: the receiving state shall accept exams from the sending state that are required for graduation. These include end-of-course exams, national norm-referenced achievement tests, and alternative testing, in place of testing requirements for graduation in the sending state.

If your child is transferring to the receiving school in his or her senior year, and the receiving school can’t accept the exams from the sending school, then the receiving school must arrange for your child to get their diploma from the sending school.

Extra-curricular 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.
  • Your child will still have to meet the eligibility standards for the activity, such as tryouts for sports or a music program.

Deployment

  • Under the Compact, schools can allow excused absences for a child whose military parent is called to duty for, is on leave from, or just returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting.
  • It’s entirely up to the school administration whether to allow this or not
  • The school can limit the number or length of the excused absences to make sure your child doesn’t miss too much school.

Your child is or will be living with another family member, non-custodial parent, or guardian (Family Care Plan)

Under the Compact, 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 can’t charge local tuition under these circumstances
  • The person taking care of your child is responsible for transportation (not the school or district).

Additional information to give the school:

  • Copy of your Family Care Plan, and if necessary, any special Powers of Attorney or custody orders, if not given to the school earlier.

Additional help and information:

Information about Compact officials in your state and their roles (click on a state in the interactive Map)

PDF with active links showing steps to resolve issues above the individual school level

Contact form to request help with a school issue 

Find Compact legislation in your state

MIC3 Step-by-Step Checklist-Resolve School Issues with the Interstate Compact

This resource shows you specific steps to take to resolve school issues for your child, using the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.  It gives you contact information for people who can help you for different situations covered by the Compact.  To help you decide if your child’s situation is covered by the Compact, use MIC3-School Issues Covered by the Interstate Compact.

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (“the Compact”) is an agreement among all 50 States and the District of Columbia to address certain school transition issues for military children consistently, from State to State. It’s often known by the acronym MIC3 (“mick-three”) after the commission responsible for designing it and getting it passed as legislation.

Your child is covered under the Compact if he or she is a school-aged child enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, when their parent is a:

  • Active duty member of the uniformed services, including members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders (Title 10)
  • Member or veteran who are medically discharged or retired for one year
  • Member who died on active duty, for a period of one year after death
  • Uniformed member of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and United States Public Health Services (USPHS)

General Information: What the Compact helps with:

  1. Transferring school records and getting your child enrolled; Immunizations
  2. Kindergarten and First Grade starting ages
  3. Special Education, Accommodations and Modifications
  4. Having to repeat courses; Getting the right program or course placement
  5. Graduation requirements
  6. Extra-curricular activities such as being in a club or playing sports
  7. Deployment
  8. Your child is or will be living with another family member or guardian (Family Care Plan)

Your responsibilities:

Basic documents package:

  • Official military orders
  • Family care plan or proof of guardianship if the child lives with a legal guardian
  • Shot record (immunizations)
  • Letter or transcript from the sending school showing attendance, academic information and grade placement
  • Birth certificate

Keep paper copies of all educational records from each school. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), or a Section 504 or ADA Title II plan, keep paper copies of the plan or program, service agreements, evaluations and progress reports. Keep records from non-school sources too.

Step-by-Step Suggestions for Using the Compact:

Step 1: Try to resolve the issue at the school level.  You might wish to do this on your own, or you can ask for help from your Parent Center ( for issues about special education, supports and services, Section 504 or ADA Title II Plan) or your School Liaison.

  • Contact your child’s school principal or other top-level school administrator
  • Keep a written record of what happens. To have a record, either contact by email, or if you speak to them in person or by phone, send a follow-up email or letter (keep a copy of the letter).
  • When you get a response, keep the response email or letter.
  • Keep all emails or letters about this issue in the folder or binder where you keep all your child’s school records and information.

You can usually find email information on your child’s school or district website, or you can call the school’s front office.

What you might put in the letter or email:

  • Describe the issue
  • State that your child is covered by the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children
  • Describe what you have already done (provided documents, called the school, etc.)
  • Ask the school to resolve the issue
  • Ask for a response by email or by letter
  • You may wish to include, or attach:
  • A copy of or link to the Compact rules document
  • Copies of your child’s basic document package and any additional information needed

Step 2: If the issue is not fixed by the school’s principal or top administrator, contact either your School Liaison or Parent Center (depending on the issue) for help. They are familiar with the process and can connect with the most useful staff to resolve your child’s situation.

 For most issues, contact your School Liaison:

School Liaisons connect students and families with information, resources and people. They are the point of contact between an installation’s military families and local schools and school districts. They are experts in the complications that can come up when a family PCS-s to a new duty station.

 For Special Education, Accommodations and Modifications, contact your Parent Center (can also be helpful for Program and Course Placement).

Parent Centers are federally-funded organizations in each State, District of Columbia, and US Territories. They work with families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, birth to 26. They will work with you, so you can resolve issues relating to your child’s disabilities. Parent Centers can help you whether your child attends a public school or a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school.

More assistance and information:

Contact form to request help with a school issue 

Find Compact legislation in your state

Information about Compact officials in your state and their roles (click on a state in the interactive Map)

PDF with active links showing steps to resolve issues above the individual school level