Posts Tagged Military Children
By Lisa Daniel
Oct. 11, 2012
The Defense Department is taking internship applications for a program that expands the availability of child care and youth programs, while also giving a leg up to jobseekers in that field, especially military spouses.
DOD and the Agriculture Department formed the Military Extension Internship Partnership in 2010 in concert with a major construction project that started in 2008 to accommodate the growing requests for child care and youth programs, Barbara Thompson, director of DOD’s Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth, told me recently.
“We thought the program up because we had huge child care growth,” she said. “We were going through a big construction program and increasing the number of child development spaces and we knew we needed to do something on the employment side. We wanted to be grooming our staff along the way so we would have experienced people to take on the role of management.”
The MEIP is taking applications for summer internships between Nov. 30 and Jan. 31 on its website. Read the rest of this entry »
By Lisa Daniel
Common Core Standards, No Child Left Behind, STEM, differentiated teaching, merit pay. Keeping up with the latest policies, ideas and buzz words in education is enough to make parents’ – along with more than a few educators’ — heads spin.
That’s why it was a special treat when I got to speak about these trends with Angela Wilson, who traveled here this week to meet Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and conduct other official business as the Department of Defense Education Activity’s 2012 Teacher of the Year. Read more here.
Wilson has been a key player in national education issues since being awarded the honor last spring, along with other Teacher of the Year winners from each of the states and territories. Since then, Wilson has traveled several times to meet with national education leaders and work on projects to advance teaching, while bringing those experiences back to her seventh-grade language arts and speech students at Vincenza Middle School in Italy.
“It’s been an amazing year,” Wilson said. “It’s really opened my eyes to what’s going on in education around our nation. As teachers, it’s easy to get stuck in what’s happening in your classroom and not looking beyond that.”
Wilson has met with President Barack Obama, whose sister, like Panetta’s, is a teacher. She’s also had conversations with Dr. Jill Biden, who remains a teacher even as she is second lady, as well as Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other public officials. She has attended education conferences and participated in initiatives and met with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, creator of www.icivics.org, and Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, who spent a couple of hours speaking with teachers at the Educational Commission Conference in Atlanta last summer, Wilson said.
“He met with all of us individually … and wanted us to tell him what’s going on in our schools and how he could help,” she said of Gates. “He wrote down what we said,” then Wilson and four other teachers were chosen to be recorded for a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation video.
“That was really neat that he would turn our thoughts into a video” to advance education, Wilson said. “His goal is to make America one of those really competitive educational societies like it used to be.”
Reports that American students’ standardized test scores are falling below those of their international peers are unsettling, but Wilson said she believes the nation is on the cusp of reversing that trend, in part due to the rapid push for new initiatives. Read the rest of this entry »
Guest blogger Air Force Maj. Nicholas Sabula is a communication plans officer at the Defense Media Activity. He was selected to a 10-member panel as part of the Defense Department’s Exceptional Family Member Program. He has a son with autism and, off-duty, is an advocate for military families dealing with autism.�
By Air Force Maj. Nicholas Sabula
Defense Media Activity
Recently I had the opportunity to serve on a Defense Department advisory panel dealing with special needs issues across the military.
The panel’s meeting last month in Alexandria, Va., was the third of its kind conducted by DOD’s Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs, or OSN, in the past year to address the Exceptional Family Member Program’s family support priorities.
The panel was comprised of family representatives from all services, including active duty and reserves, and addressed communication issues and concerns from military families. The event was chaired by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Charles E. Milam.
As the father of three boys, one with autism, I took my role in the process very seriously. In reaching out for input from families through networking, meet-ups and even an unofficial online survey, I found myself not only serving not only as the Air Force representative, but also as a joint representative to all our families.
EFMP impacts a lot of families, with enrollment mandatory for active duty families with a special need. As of December, total EFMP service member enrollment was projected at 93,706 with numbers of EFMP family members estimated at 126,153 across services.
The program becomes especially important when planning and making a permanent change of station move. Some families need support before the move to determine if services are available for their particular special needs. Some find that they need family support assistance to navigate the system when they arrive at a new duty station. Contacts must be made with new school staff, to locate medical providers and work with a variety of offices to support providers on or off the installation.
During previous panels, we presented families’ frustrations with accessing information and services and confusion about policy since each service implements a slightly different program. Lack of standardization and consistency at different installations were top priorities. The panel listed as its three key areas for improvement consistency of support, communication and health care.
What I found is that much of the work our panel initially identified and advocated for a year ago was taken to heart by leadership and we are seeing results. OSN recently completed the first phase of an analysis aimed at standardizing service support for special needs families across DOD. The analysis used a series of site visits to installation-level, headquarters-level and any centralized locations dealing with personnel, family support and assignment processes. The culminating activity was a review by the services to look at enrollment and identification; assignment coordination; overseas family travel; and family support.
Ultimately, the outcome is to consolidate these processes and make it easier for families to maintain support from location to location. Simple things like common forms, databases talking to each other, more user-friendly websites to help families as they transition from one location to another, accessibility of information to understand how to obtain care and support from available resources were all presented.
A TRICARE representative spoke about the health care management activity’s efforts to improve communication with families and collaboration with OSN, such as simplifying online navigation. The representative discussed TRICARE’s Patient Centered Medical Home, which the services are implementing and eventually will address many of the panel’s issues related to lack of consistency of medical providers and timely access to specialty care. It places emphasis on personal relationships, team delivery of holistic care, coordination across medical specialties and settings, and increases access to affordable care.
EFMP representatives from each service’s headquarters shared their efforts to improve communication and outreach, as well as awareness on adult-age children or spouses with special needs, respite care and other EFMP initiatives such as joint base support.
I was especially pleased to see that the services are working more closely together to build cohesion across the joint force. It might not sound like much, but as an Air Force family on an Army installation, such cohesion is important and reflects a readiness issue for the military community at large.
Perhaps the hardest part of participating in these panels has been the expectations of families after it ends. It’s hard to tell families that their concerns were presented, but won’t be fixed right now. As I’ve learned, the complexity of coordination and needed approvals at the department or service level means change typically gets accomplished at one speed: glacial.
Despite more work to be done, military families like mine with special needs should see some direct benefits from the recommendations brought forth through this panel, indicating the importance DOD is putting on listening to families’ concerns and working to act on their issues.
There’s still going to challenges with support and services in the short term, but the ball is rolling on lasting improvements to make things better for all our families.
Posted by in Family Matters on August 9, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
Aug. 9, 2011
Nearly a year ago, I made the move from Virginia to Maryland and enrolled my children in their new school.
As in past moves, I immediately ran up against some school-transition roadblocks. My son wanted to join the after-school science club, but had missed the sign-up dates by a long shot. And since she wasn’t there for testing, my daughter had to wait months before she could be considered for an honors program.
These issues were an inconvenience, but since we don’t move that often, I figured they wouldn’t have a lasting impact.
It’s a different story for our military children who move multiple times over the course of their parent’s military career. One lost semester of an honors program due to missed testing dates may not add up to much, but how about six or eight missed semesters?
Fortunately, an interstate compact is helping to address these transition-related concerns for military parents. The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children affects everything from school enrollment and eligibility to course placement and graduation. Since its inception in 2006, 39 states have adopted the compact, ensuring inclusion of nearly 90 percent of military children and teens.
The compact addresses military parents’ common concerns such as records transfer, which often takes weeks or months to occur. This delay in records transfer can cause a delay in course and program placement. Under the compact, however, schools must transfer records within 10 days.
The compact also requires the gaining school to presume students are qualified for an honors program if they were in a similar program in another school and there’s space in the gaining program. Students still can be tested, but won’t lose valuable program time in the meantime.
To ensure students have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, the compact requires schools to waive the deadlines or, if those dates are steadfast, to find an alternate way for the student to apply, such as taped auditions.
The compact includes many other provisions for military students, including those from National Guard and Reserve families. Parents and school officials should educate themselves about the compact, particularly as the new school year draws near, advised Ed Kringer, director of state liaison and educational opportunity for the Pentagon’s office of military community and family policy. And if they hit any roadblocks, he added, parents and guardians should talk to their local school liaison officer.
The big-picture goal of the compact, he said, is to alleviate parents’ education concerns and to keep families together. He would like to avoid situations in which the families choose to stay in one place while the service member moves to another to avoid school transition issues.
“That’s not what we want. … We don’t want to keep families apart,” he said. “We surely don’t want them apart because they’re worried about their children being put behind because they have to transfer schools.”
For more on the compact, read my American Forces Press Service article, “Interstate Compact Eases School Transitions” or visit the Department of Defense Education Activity’s website.
Posted by in Family Matters on June 9, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
June 9, 2011
After a decade of war, most military families have grown accustomed to their service member’s absence for significant events due to a heavy pace of deployments. But this year, thanks to technology and some extensive behind-the-scenes efforts, deployed military parents from bases across Europe and the Pacific won’t have to miss a major milestone in their child’s life: high school graduation.
About 60 parents deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the world have been invited to watch 12 graduation ceremonies taking place on bases in Germany, Italy and England. Additionally, several schools in the Pacific also will offer a live webcast of some graduation ceremonies in Japan, Guam and South Korea.
“It’s all about the kids and the families,” said Nancy Bresell, director of Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe. “We’ll do whatever it takes and whatever we can to bring them together for such an important event in a child’s life — probably the single most important event.”
The following graduations in Europe and the Pacific will be broadcast online:
– Today: Ansbach, Bamberg and Heidelberg High Schools in Germany;
– Tomorrow: Baumholder, Hohenfels and Kaiserslautern High Schools in Germany; Lakenheath High School in England; Vicenza High School in Italy; Guam High School in Guam; Edgren High School in Japan; and Daegu American School in South Korea;
– June 11: Bitburg and Mannheim High Schools in Germany and Kubasaki High School in Japan;
– June 12: Wiesbaden High School in Germany; and
– June 14: Ramstein High School in Germany.
To watch a graduation, family and friends can get access information from their graduating senior or local Defense Department school.
For more on this effort, see my American Forces Press Service article, Technology Enables Deployed Parents to See Graduations.
Posted by in Family Matters on April 1, 2011
Robert L. Gordon III is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy. In this blog, Mr. Gordon thanks military children for their contributions, and highlights a few of the Defense Department programs available to support them.
By Robert L. Gordon III
Military Community and Family Policy
April 1, 2011
Military children continually amaze us as they rise to the challenges of military life. It’s a life of frequent moves, changing schools, leaving friends and making new friends.
During April, the Month of the Military Child, we applaud their character and maturity, and we acknowledge that kids serve too.
Our military community includes 1.8 million American children and youth under 18 years old. The Defense Department offers a wide range of programs and services to support military families and their kids. Just a few of the things we’re working on include:
– Working with states to minimize school disruption for military children during transition and deployment. The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children provides common guidelines for participating states to follow in handling issues including initial enrollment age, records transfer, graduation requirements and much more. So far, 35 states have adopted the compact, covering 88 percent of students.
– Increasing access to quality, affordable child care for military families. Today’s National Guard and Reserve forces mobilize and deploy at historic rates. Many military children — of all branches and components — live away from military installations, and even when they do live near to one, many locations are unable to meet the demand for care at military child development facilities. The DOD Child Care Expansion Initiative will help answer this growing need by ensuring their access to quality child care in the communities in which they reside.
– The Department of Defense Education Activity launched an online preregistration application . Through the site, parents can preregister their children in a DOD school from anywhere in the world, and even while on the move from one installation to another.
– A new, 365-page deployment guide is now available. This guide prepares families for deployment and has chapters dedicated to preparing children for deployment, helping them to cope with separation and the adjustment when the deployed parent comes home.
Additionally, installations around the world offer a huge range of activities for military kids at child care centers, youth centers, clubs and camps.
The professionals at these programs get vital support from volunteers. I see the enormous amount of good done by the hands and hearts of volunteers. Their selfless work changes lives and strengthens our nation.
During the Month of the Military Child, I also encourage you to consider volunteering at any of the many organizations dedicated to military kids. From the Boys and Girls Club of America , 4-H Youth Development and the Armed Services YMCA , these and many other organizations provide quality programs to military families and their children.
Have you volunteered with youth in your community? Where do you volunteer? What inspired you to get started? What experiences have you had? How would you inspire someone else to serve as a volunteer? We’d like you to share your stories on the Facebook wall of Serve.gov.
Is the organization you support listed on Serve.gov? This is a nationwide resource for finding volunteer opportunities in your community and creating your own. Listing the organization on this website allows other people to sign up and join you.
It’s hard to imagine a local t-ball league without volunteers. Who would prepare the field, coach the players or call the plays? Children are first in the mind of their parents, and during Month of the Military Child, we hope they become first in the minds of their communities as well.
There are many ways to serve, and many reasons. No matter your age or background, your education or interests, your experience or abilities, Serve.gov has a volunteer opportunity that’s right for you.
Posted by in Family Matters on March 31, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
March 31, 2011
Military parents seeking a fun — and free — summer camp option for their children should check out the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple Summer Camp program.
The association developed the camps to support military children ages 7 to 17 dealing with the stressors of war, according to an association news release. Now in its eighth year, the program will host more than 3,500 children during 40 weeks of camp in 25 states, as well as one overseas location this summer.
People can apply for a camp online through April 29 at midnight EDT. The camps are open to children of all services, whether active duty, National Guard or Reserve. However, priority will be given to military children with a parent deployed or deploying any time between September 2010 and December 2011 who have not attended an Operation Purple camp in the past.
For more information about the program, or camp locations and dates, visit the association’s website.
Posted by in Family Matters on October 5, 2009
By Elaine Wilson
Oct. 2, 2009
I got a call from my daughter’s school the other day, the one every parent dreads. My daughter’s teacher was calling me to point out some “behavioral issues” my daughter had been having for several weeks.
I decided to have a one-on-one with my 7-year-old to see what was going on. She’s generally a very happy kid and normally breezes through school without any major problems. Turns out her best friend from last year had been ignoring her at recess and she was devastated. My daughter’s shy and it’s tough for her to make new friends so this was a huge hit to her ego.
I decided to use a visual technique I picked up at DoD’s family readiness conference last month. Trevor Romain, a noted children’s author and advocate, had described several methods he uses to help military children that I thought were pure genius.
Read the rest of this entry »