By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 29, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 29, 2013) -- Some say that caring for a Family can be a job in itself, and the Exceptional Family Member Program wants to make sure that Families with special needs get all the help they can.
The 2013 EFMP Family and Child Find Campaign in September is designed to reach out, connect with and identify those Families through education with events across the installation, according to Marion Cornish, Army Community Service EFMP manager.
"The Child and Family Find Campaign is a time when additional emphasis is placed on identification of these individuals," said Cornish. "The goal is always the same, and the number of exceptional Family members fluctuates depending on the needs of the active-duty military Families."
The goal of EFMP is to make sure that Families with special needs can get the services they require for their exceptional Family member, which include: physical needs, intellectual needs, developmental delays, emotional impairments that require special treatment, therapy education, training or counseling, said the Cornish.
"Special needs incorporates a lot of things from special education services to early intervention services," she said. "Also, if [a Family member] is seeing any type of therapist such as a speech or physical therapist, or any type of specialized care provider, they should be screened for possible enrollment in the program."
Fort Rucker is home to about 800-850 exceptional Family members, but Cornish said the numbers may not be a true reflection of how many there actually are.
"These numbers are probably low because there are military Families that have never heard of the program," she said. "Sometimes they don't understand the program or fear that it might have a negative impact on their Soldier's career."
Displays will be placed at the post exchange for people to visit from Sept. 13-20 and will have information about the program, including information on if and how they should enroll.
People can visit the displays and talk with EFMP members who will be mingling with the community and educating people on the program during peak hours of the day, said Cornish.
The Center Library display will feature books that relate to different types of disabilities that individuals may have to go in conjunction with the Story Time activity.
"We did [Story Time] last year and it generated a lot of interest, so we decided to do it again," said Cornish. "The stories will be about individuals with disabilities to help children relate."
The Story Time sessions will be at three different locations: Corvias Military Living Allen Heights Neighborhood center Sept. 11 from 9:30-10:30 a.m.; the Center Library Sept. 13 from 10:15-11 a.m.; and the Corvias Military Living Bowden Terrace Neighborhood Center from 9:30-10:30 a.m. An arts and craft session will follow the Story Time session and are usually tied in with the stories that were read, said Cornish.
The Story Time session is a way to relate to a child's disability in a way that parents can communicate with the children, said the EFMP manager, and it's a way to help them understand.
"It can also help siblings understand that their brother or sister is a little different and teach them why we need to spend more time with them or develop a different set of skills," she said. "Sometimes it's a challenge when trying to explain things to children."
The campaign will also be hosting the ACS Family Bowling Night Sept. 15 at the Fort Rucker Bowling Center from 5-10 p.m. The cost is $1 per game and $1.50 for shoe rental, and registration is required no later than two days prior to the event. To register, call 255-9277, or 255-3735.
EFMP members will also be present promote the campaign and answer questions that Families might have.
"We just want to do what we can to let Families know that we're trying to help, and the way we do that is by getting this information out," said Cornish. "If a doctor can diagnose it, then it's worth considering whether or not [the Family member] should be enrolled in the program."
Enrollment in the program is mandatory for active-duty Army Soldiers, Army Reserve Soldiers in the Active Guard Reserve program, and Army National Guard personnel serving under authority of Title 10, United States Code.
For more information, call 255-9277.