Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Help for Military Families

Finding the right school or program for a child with learning or other disabilities can be a challenge for any family. Imagine how much more difficult this can be for a military family that needs to move from place to place every few years -- or even more frequently. Add to the mix a parent who may be deployed overseas, often in a war zone, for a year or more, and you multiply the stress exponentially.

The Wrightslaw website has a good deal of information for military families dealing with special education issues. Peter and Pam Wright, who operate the site, have shared with the readers their own son's military deployment, which makes this a subject of special interest to them.

Both the Army and Marine Corps have programs in place to help their members deal with the special education needs of their dependents, which were discussed in a Washington Post article late last year.  The Department of Defense has a website dedicated to families with special needs dependents, and released an explanation of upcoming expansion of existing programs for families which are being funded by the 2010 Defense Authorization Act.

Other resources include the STOMP (Specialized Training of Military Parents) website, which describes itself as "a federally funded Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center established to assist military families who have children with special education or health needs. STOMP began in 1985, it is a project of Washington PAVE, and is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education." Among the services that STOMP provides is a listserve, which families can use to gain information and contacts in their area, free one-on-one support for families dealing with special education issues, and trainings at various military installations.

We are pleased to see that military families, who sacrifice so much, are starting to get more of the support they need -- and to which the law entitles them.

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