April 2 is considered World Autism Day and the month of April is Autism Acceptance Month. The CDC reports that roughly 1 in 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
In light of World Autism Day and Autism Acceptance Month, The Submerged Life wanted to shine a spotlight on the Department of Defense’s Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). This program is designed to help military members and their families, particularly exceptional family members with special needs.
What is EFMP?
EFMP stands for Exceptional Family Member Program. This program is a mandatory enrollment program for military families with special needs. There are different ways to qualify for the program, but conditions for enrollment include specialized medical and dental care, some mental health conditions, special education requirements, developmental concerns, need for accessibility and adaptive equipment as well as assistive technology devices and services.
What are the components of the program?
There are three main elements of the EFMP program: identification and enrollment, assignments and family support services. Some families self-identify and others may be identified through various service providers, including schools and military and civilian medical providers. EFMP Case Managers/Coordinators are present at major military treatment facilities. EFMP coordinators help with things such as program enrollments, updates and disenrollment from services.
There are sicategories for EFMP, designated by type, severity and frequency of intervention that is required by the family member. Categories are reviewed by a multidisciplinary team and assigned by Navy Personnel Command (NPC).
The Assignment element of the program includes career management for the service member. This means that assignment staff work to assign service members to areas that are suitable for the family member enrolled in EFMP. Sometimes, this may mean that the service member serves an unaccompanied tour due to lack of appropriate medical or educational resources for the exceptional family member.
The last piece of the program is the family support program. EFMP Liaisons are located at Fleet and Family Support Centers. These liaisons provide non-medical case management and help connect with local community resources. These support services include access to a respite care program.
Why is it mandatory?
This is a common question asked by many when faced with enrollment in EFMP. The main reason that EFMP is mandatory is so that family members and dependents can receive access to services for their needs. It also helps provide access to supports both within the military community and in the local community.
What is ECHO?
ECHO is a program provided through Tricare. It is the Extended Care Health Option, which provides financial assistance to qualified beneficiaries with special needs. For more information, contact Tricare’s ECHO program.