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Camp Lejeune schools offer personalized educational program for children with disabilities

by Ashley Torres

The Globe
Camp Lejeune, NC | January 31, 2014

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) presented an open discussion for parents and Marines about the Individual Education Program (IEP) during the EFMP Quarterly Forum aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Thursday.

Parents and educators gathered at the Paradise Point Officer’s Club to talk about the different special education efforts and individualized education plans available in Camp Lejeune schools. Through the partnership between EFMP and IEP, schools are able to ease the minds of parents and present services for children with disabilities.

“I like the collaboration between children with special needs and students who try to build a community to provide education for everyone,” said Mark Sanford, instructor systems specialist for Camp Lejeune schools.

The EFMP is a mandatory process for all active-duty dependents who are in need of special medical care or enrollment in an IEP education plan. To be enrolled in the EFMP an individual must have a diagnosed physical, intellectual or emotional need that requires special medical or educational services. Through the program, case workers are available to assist families by guiding members through enrollment, connecting them to services, advocating for them as well as providing support through permanent change of station.

Over the past year, the EFMP has helped many families across Camp Lejeune, according to Tracy Sosa, program manager for the EFMP. Enrollment in the program raised up 9 percent with 1,800 individuals who received services, and 450 families enrolled. The EFMP also provided support to 650 PCS families over the course of the year.

“We are going to ensure families get what they need,” said Sosa. “We will provide a case manager, and help find resources and doctors. The program is out there for families to use and better their lives.”

A child diagnosed with a special need can be recommended for the IEP to create an individual education plan for that child. A referral can come from classrooms teachers, school administrators, student support teams, outside agencies, parents or from a review of records. Once a referral has been placed and with the consent of the parents, the case study committee evaluates and assesses the child suspected of disability.

Eligibility is evaluated based on the data received during the assessment process. Once a child has been deemed in need of assistance, the team places the child in one of five eligibility categories: physical impairments, emotional impairments, communication impairments, learning impairments and developmental delay.

While schools outside Camp Lejeune can provide IEP for multiple disability categories the DoDEA’s policy does not qualify a child under multiple categories. The case study group places the child under the category that has the most impact on their performance, and services are provided for that need creating an individual education program.

“My son is a high functioning autistic,” said Harriet Williams, military spouse. “I didn’t understand how to help him with some of the difficulties he was experiencing. I was really nervous for my first IEP meeting, but everyone at Johnson Primary School genuinely cared about my son. They are always encouraging him.”

Williams recommended any parent looking for advice on how to help solve difficulties, to talk to the classroom teachers. The local district is only one of two school districts in the country with an autism specialist, according to Sanford.

“We always try to get the parents involved in the IEP meeting,” said Sanford.

Over the past year the EFMP have hosted events for children and dependents to create a comfortable social environment. Through EFMP and the IEP program families can receive the assistance and services they need.

For more information about EFMP or the IEP process, call 450-4131.

Posted in Carolina living on Friday, January 31, 2014

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