People say advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. In reality, it’s both.
Parents of children enrolled in special education and DoD’s Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) advocate for their children every day, both at home and at school – that’s the marathon. The sprints are quick actions amplifying their experiences to advocate for positive change. One such sprint is underway in the form of a critical survey from a MOAA partner organization.
Partners in PROMISE is an all-volunteer military spouse-led team led by MOAA Currently Serving Spouse Advisory Council member and 2021 Changemaker Award recipient Michelle Norman. The organization’s annual Military Special Education/EFMP Survey, conducted in partnership with the Ohio State University, is open now through Oct. 7, making advocacy easier for both EFMP families and those who serve them.
This survey will examine military students’ special education experiences and allow the nonprofit to understand the experiences of those who serve military special education students. The survey is open to:
- School liaison officers
- EFMP coordinators
- Special education/general education teachers
- Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)/public school administrators
- Military special education attorneys
- Adults enrolled in EFMP.
This year's survey will take roughly 5-20 minutes to complete.
[SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK: Click Here to Take the Survey]
In its 2020 Military Special Education/EFMP Survey, Partners in PROMISE discovered nearly a quarter of families eligible for EFMP were not enrolled in the program. In 2021, findings revealed the average wait for special education services after a PCS move spanned 5.75 months, violating the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
MOAA uses findings from surveys like this to shape advocacy efforts and guide discussions with DoD, the Defense-State Liaison Office, and other leaders. We support efforts to fully fund Federal Impact Aid to ensure all military-connected students in school districts near military installations which are affected by lost revenue from taxes have access to appropriate learning materials, equipment, staff, special education programming, and building improvements.
“EFMP families feel alone in dealing with school districts and accessing medical care. They feel like squeaky wheels, but our data has proven that they are not squeaky wheels, but whistleblowers,” said Jennifer Barnhill, COO and Lead Researcher for Partners in PROMISE. “This year we want to learn more about the difficulties faced by those who serve our special ed students. … If we can understand their struggles, we can help formulate well-rounded solutions that benefit them AND our families.”
Partners in PROMISE’s research is focused on delivering evidence-based solutions to the issues faced by military families in special education and those within EFMP.
“We are excited to deep-dive to a level of research that I believe has not been conducted before in our EFMP community,” Norman said. “Not only will this survey provide our community key insights on how to refine critical resources and programming for exceptional military families, it will also help decision-makers shape the framework of a holistic system that can better serve EFMP families.”
Your participation in surveys like this is important and appreciated. Please take time to share your experience and feedback to help MOAA and Partners In PROMISE improve policies and programs designed to support our military-connected students.
Making a Difference in Military Life
Military spouse blogger Mrs. Navy Mama shares her support of MOAA’s efforts to help military families and how you can get involved.