By Adam Fabel; Exceptional Family Member Program; Army Community Service; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; U.S. Army Garrison-HawaiiMarch 17, 2014
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (March 14, 2014) -- Is your child enrolled in school and in need of special assistance? Does your child struggle with learning?
If the answer is yes, rest assured you are not alone.
Many children have difficulties in learning, particularly those children who are diagnosed with a disability.
Fortunately, there are programs in place that you can access right now to help your child flourish in the school system. Your child might be eligible for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan.
Both the IEP and 504 were established to help a child who has been found with a disability.
The IEP is tailored to the individual student's needs, to help children reach educational goals and maintain equal footing throughout the educational experience. The IEP helps teachers and related service providers understand the student's disability and how the learning process is affected.
The IEP and 504 are programs created by the school in conjunction with input from the family and other supports to make necessary accommodations to support children with disabilities in order to make the educational experience a level playing field for all children.
If you need help with this process and don?'t understand how to go about getting this accommodation for your children, you can contact the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) and work with a Systems Navigator who can guide you through the process from requesting the eligibility of an IEP all the way through the appropriate implementation of the IEP by the school.
EFMP Systems Navigators have been assisting families through the IEP process for several years and have established relationships with schools both on and off post.
"Navigators provide a level of support to the families we serve that is unparalleled," said Leonard Webster, EFMP coordinator. "They are truly looking out for the best interest of your child."
While a family may attend one or two IEP meetings, a year, a Navigator may attend 40 to 50 a year. This training allows them to gain insight into the needs of children that makes them uniquely qualified to provide advocacy to your family through this confusing process.
One Soldier and his spouse discussed their EFMP experience.
"EFMP has helped us get better services for our child in Hawaii, and they could help direct them in the right direction for their special needs child," said the Soldier, who is the father.
The EFMP strives to support the individual needs of each family. Each child has a specific set of needs during an IEP, which the EFMP can help establish at the school to ensure success by working with the family.
Having the involvement of the EFMP can alleviate some of the stress on your family because you can be assured that you are not the only person advocating for your child. The EFMP takes a professional and child-focused approach to ensure the validity and appropriateness of the IEP or 504.
Through advocacy, education and encouragement the support of the EFMP can be noticed throughout the process.
For more information on where you can find assistance through the EFMP, call 808-655-4227.