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Special needs families receive added support

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While EFMP has traditionally been an assignment-focused program, Air Force senior leaders want EFMP to evolve into a more comprehensive and proactive family support program.

Coordinators will help Airmen and their families connect with community support services through information and referral to on base, off base, local, state and federal services before, during, and after a permanent change of station. They will also assist with outreach services and provide community awareness and education on EFMP, said Teresa Barrow, program manager for the Air Force.

"These types of services have always been available in Airman and Family Readiness Centers," said Ms. Barrow. "Now, the services will be more specific and targeted to families with special needs."

EFMP coordinators will also help special needs families navigate some of the challenges they may encounter when moving from base to base.

Under EFMP, Airmen may proceed to assignment locations where they can be sure special needs family members can receive adequate care. The program is one of several initiatives geared toward taking care of Airmen and instilling a greater sense of Air Force community.

Special needs include any long-term medical, physical, psychological or educational conditions that require treatment. Air Force Instruction 40-701, Special Need Identification and Assignment Coordination, mandates enrollment to protect Airmen and their families.

The Air Force Personnel Center considers enrollment in EFMP when an Airman is due for a new assignment or professional development opportunity. This assurance of an appropriate assignment begins at the base level, said Lori Surgnier, chief of humanitarian and EFMP assignments at the Air Force Personnel Center.

"Airmen with family members who require special needs should visit a medical treatment facility for a complete evaluation, assessment and enrollment in the program," she said. "They can obtain the necessary limitation code, 'Q,' which identifies them as having a family member with special needs."

When Airmen enrolled in EFMP are notified of an assignment, they should call their special needs coordinator to ensure appropriate services and care is available for the family at the new location. If the needs cannot be met, then Airmen may proceed without their family members, apply for EFMP reassignment consideration through AFPC, or in certain situations, request assignment cancellation through the Virtual MPF website.

"Once a location has been determined as meeting the Air Force's manning need and the required care or service, the new assignment is processed, and the Airman and family will proceed to the re-assignment," Ms. Surgnier said.

Eligibility for a new assignment under EFMP is still based upon current and projected manning requirements at locations where required medical, educational, early intervention or related services are available through the military medical system, civilian resources utilizing Tricare, or a combination thereof and local resources.

"We want to ensure all Airmen, EFMP enrolled or not, are considered fairly among their peers for assignments," Ms. Surgnier said.

For more information about the Exceptional Family Member Program, visit a local Airman and Family Readiness Center, a medical treatment facility or www.militaryonesource.com.