A military installation relocation can be a very stressful time for a military family. Those 3 little letters, PCS (permanent change of station) can cause the blood pressure to rise in both the service member and the military spouse.
When you add your special needs child into the process, any PCS becomes quite complicated. In addition to everything you normally need to do to get ready to move, you also have to make sure you complete the requirements as an Exceptional Family Member Program participant.
But don’t stress out.
My list is unlike your typical PCS checklist. This list is specially designed for my fellow EFMP families as they prepare for their upcoming moves this summer.
Create a EFMP Folder
Since the reason for EFMP is to make sure that families with special needs do not get stationed at military installations without the services they need, it is important that your records are up to date at all times. Then when those PCS orders arrive, you will not have to worry about getting orders for a place that would not work for your family.
Combine the individualized education plan (IEP), school paperwork, and medical documents into one EFMP folder. Request your child’s paperwork from his or her current school. You will need it.
When we moved to Tennessee I gave my son’s IEP to his new school district. From that they were able to figure out where he should go to school.
Make a list of the therapies your child needs. You want to find similar providers at your new home. If you are able to you should take some time to research a little about who you want your child to see at your new city.
Use your military spouse Facebook network. It’s a quick way to get a list of Tricare-approved providers and instant feedback from special needs families, just like yourself.
In the end, you might not get a choice, but you want to be prepared to make the best one.
Plan for Hotel Life
When it comes time to PCS you might be living in a hotel for a few days or even weeks. Make sure the hotel you will be staying at has what you need. Prepare your children ahead of time for what to expect during the transition.
If you are not doing a DITY move, you could be without a lot of your belongings for an extended period of time. This can be as long as 6 to 8 weeks if you are moving to or from an overseas location. Make sure you make plans for this. If your child depends on a certain toy or blanket, make sure you can find a way to keep it with you throughout the whole move. Do not let the movers pack it.
Try to remember not to stress during the PCS process. Moving is hard. Change is hard and it is even more so for the special needs child. Preparation now will go a long way in the future.