Special Education

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Special Education


EFMP Special Education Pilot

Special Education can be a daunting maze to navigate.  As a parent, you want what is best for your child; as a school you want to provide every student an opportunity to access a fair appropriate education.  It is difficult to balance those two wants and the needs of a child at times.  That is why it is important for a parent to become knowledgeable and empowered in the special education journey.  It is necessary to speak up, ask questions, and be an intricate part of developing an educational program for your child.

Sometimes doing that on your own becomes too difficult.  You are not alone!  Resources are available to educate and support your Exceptional Family Member.  The Navy has heard the call and recognizes the need for additional special education support.  The Navy has authorized a Special Education Pilot in Hampton Roads, VA, and in the San Diego, CA metro area that provides additional support for Exceptional Family Member enrollees regarding questions and issues arising with special education.  The Navy has developed a three-tiered support structure:

First Tier/Contact: Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) EFMP Case Liaisons

  • The FFSC EFMP Case Liaison is the person assigned to your EFM case.  They can provide information on resources available in your duty area in regards to medical, education, housing, and child care to name a few.  Among special education services, they can review EFM Individualized Education Program (IEP) and 504s with families.  In the pilot locations, they can attend meetings to take notes and discuss with you what occurred in those meetings.  If special education questions arise that are above their expertise and scope of services, they will refer you to Tier Two.

Second Tier/Contact: Region Exceptional Family Member Special Education Liaison

  • The Special Education Liaison can assist with special education issues in a supportive role.  They are special education subject matter experts that will review your EFM’s special education history and determine whether the current school district is following federal/state special education regulations and policies and that your child is receiving the appropriate education that meets their unique needs in order for them to successfully access the public education curriculum.  In the event that your special education issues are not able to be mediated at the school level, you will be referred to Tier Three.

Third Tier/Contact: Special Education Attorney

  • The Special Education Attorney in the Hampton Roads, VA pilot locations will assist with Special Education issues that can’t be resolved at the local school or school district level.  They are a subject matter expert that will research your issues and determine the best way to proceed in order for your Exceptional Family Member to have the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

It is imperative that through the entire process and journey of special education that you, as the parent, arm yourself with knowledge and understanding of the laws, procedures, and parental and student rights that govern special education.  You must stay involved and do not be afraid to speak up because you can be the best advocate for your child.  However, the Navy recognizes the challenges the military lifestyle can put on being present, effective, and not overwhelmed with the transitions in education.  

Special Education involves an evaluation and then possible program design of an IEP or a 504 Plan.


Individualized Education Program (IEP)

A legal document that clearly defines how a school district plans to meet your child’s unique educational needs that result from a disability.

Two general purposes:

  1. To set specific learning goals for the child.
  2. To define the services the district will provide for that child to meet their goals.

Each child’s IEP must contain specific information, as listed within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), our nation’s special education law. This includes, but is not limited to:

The child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, describing how the child is currently doing in school and how the child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general curriculum.

  • Annual goals for the child, meaning what parents and the school team think he or she can reasonably accomplish in a year.
  • The special education and related services to be provided to the child, including supplementary aids and services (such as a communication device) and changes to the program or supports for school personnel.
  • How much of the school day the child will be educated separately from nondisabled children or not participate in extracurricular or other nonacademic activities such as lunch or clubs.
  • How (and if) the child is to participate in state and district-wide assessments, including what modifications to tests the child needs.
  • When services and modifications will begin, how often they will be provided, where they will be provided, and how long they will last.
  • How school personnel will measure the child’s progress toward the annual goals.

The 504 Plan is a blueprint for how the school will support the student with a disability and remove barriers to learning. Schools must provide equal opportunities to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement. 504 has no eligibility categories with strict criteria.  It can be any permanent or temporary disability that limits access to learning.

Resources for Specific Special Education Topics
Parents Guide to Special Education
Virginia Family Special Education Connection
Office of Children Services

Empowering Parents to Be Prepared Advocates

  1. Create and organize your child's special education binder.
    DOD Special Needs Parent Toolkit
  2. Take time to read through procedural safeguards provided by your child's district.
  3. When Progress Reports are sent home, take time to assess your child on each goal to see if your assessment is consistent with the data offered by your school.
  4. Prior to any meetings review the drafts provided and write questions or notes.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, request clarification, or ask for more time to review before agreeing.
  6. It is ok to ask someone to attend a meeting with you to take notes and help ask questions.
  7. Know where your resources for support are located in your area.


Special Education Resources by State

The following resources will be helpful in answering Special Education questions specific to the state of your family’s residence. These resources will assist in gaining information, building a network, and finding support as you navigate your child’s journey in your area. 

New Hampshire

Rhode Island


New York


New Jersey




North Carolina

West Virginia









Special Education Inquiries