Project of PAVE

Project of PAVE
Partnerships for Action Voices for Empowerment


With a population of 1.5 million active duty military members, each day around the globe, there are an estimated 540,000 active duty sponsors each caring for a family member with special medical or educational needs. STOMP is the only National Parent Training and Information Center for military families providing support and advice to military parents without regard of the type of medical condition their child has.

Parents of children with special needs face many challenges. Service in the military compounds the problems of: anxiety and isolation, financial stresses, navigating services and lack of information. Our hope is to provide family members with a connection to others and information by bridging the gap as we seek to empower individuals. Our commitment is to provide training, information and support so that you may be the best advocate for yourself and family members. With this blog, we hope to share our experiences, stories, tips and information about the challenges we face and the joys of having special needs family members. By sharing in our hopes and dreams, gaining support from others that have walked this same path, we can better see the light at the end of the tunnel and that the future is bright.

The STOMP Staff

STOMP Calendar

August 21, 2014

Reports, Articles, and Regulations Related to Military Families Impacted by Disabilities

Reports, Articles, and Regulations Related to Military Families Impacted by Disabilities

Compiled by Jeremy Hilton. 1 July 2014 and Share with His Permission

TRICARE for Kids Reports

Military Special Needs Network:
Report on ECHO Program:
Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health:
Military Officer’s Association of America:
National Military Family Association:
NCD Report: "How to Improve Access to Health Care, Special Education, and Long-Term Supports and Services for Family Members with Disabilities",
Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing: "Oversight: Military Families with Special Needs"

GAO Reports:

2007: GAO-07-317R "Medical, Family Support, and Educational Services Available for Exceptional Family
2012: GAO-12-680, "Better Oversight Needed to Improve Services for Children with Special Needs"
2013:GAO-13-165R, "Department of Defense Policies on Accommodating Children with Special Needs in Child Care Programs",
2014: “More-Specific Guidance Needed for TRICARE's Managed Care Support Contractor Transitions”

Future DoD Reports:

Benchmark Study: This study analyzes existing military and civilian programs and policies to inform on best practices, determines expansion of existing programs through a family needs assessment, and develops evaluation metrics to determine family satisfaction. (Delayed)
Functional Analysis: This is a long-term project to analyze the current data and case management systems of each Military Service to determine whether a joint service system can be developed to network the Military Service systems and the military health system IT solutions.

Past Reports:

2005 “Medicaid’s Role in Treating Military Families”
2009 "National Leadership Summit on Military Families"
2010 "Report on the Impact of Deployment of Members of the Armed Forces on Their Dependent Children" (see pg 45-46)
2010 “Military Family Assessment” (see pg 37)
2011 "Annual Report to Congress on Plans for the Department of Defense for the Support of Military Family Readiness"
2011 “2011 Office of Special Needs Report to Congress related to 2011 NDAA”
2011 “Military Child and Special Education NDAA Study”
2011 “Education Services for Military Dependent Children with Autism”

Air Force Reports

2009 Caring for People Conference Slides,
2010 Caring for People Conference Slides,
2009 DoD IG Complaint,

Analysis of EFMP by Dr.Leslie Drinkwine:

Relevant Articles in the Press

2009: “The Military Child and Special Education”
2010: Washington Post “Military helps families find care for special-needs kids”
2010: Blog Post after Briefing of Congressional Military Family Caucus:
2010: Air Force Times Article related to IG Complaint:
2012: “EFMP –Moving beyond the Q code”
2013: Jeremy Hilton, Time:
2013: Terri Barnes, Spouse Calls (Stars and Stripes...ABA Issue): (a number of great links included to other stories)

Applicable Statutes and Regulations

DoD Office of Special Needs (10 USC Sec. 1781c)
USMC EFMP: Google search for MCO 1754.4B
A number of other relevant service regulations:

Websites to be familiar with (all have Facebook pages as well):

Military Special Needs Network:
American Military Families Autism Support:

Miscellaneous Issues/Reports/Articles

“Legal Issues Facing Military Families with Special Needs Children”:  
RAND Study: “Effects of Soldiers' Deployment on Children's Academic Performance and Behavioral Health” (see pg 45)
Compiled by Jeremy Hilton, or @jlrmhilton on Twitter.

July 7, 2014

50 Years of Civil Rights, “We Shall Overcome” Discrimination

50 Years of Civil Rights,
“We Shall Overcome” Discrimination

Last week, as our families and friends joined together for BBQs, fireworks and Independence Day fun, there is yet another reason to celebrate. In 1964 Congress passed Public Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241). For many of us, this may bring up small memories from history classes that discussed civil rights and thoughts of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. Yet there is so much more for us to be thankful for as a nation, and particularly as parents who have children with special needs.

Last week, on July 2nd, marked the 50th anniversary since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in honor of the late President John F. Kennedy. At President Johnson's side was Martin Luther King Jr, and this historic signing essentially began the revolution to end legal discrimination.

 Civil Rights legislation has truly changed the meaning of equality in this country which extends across multiple settings and also to our individuals with disabilities. In one of its earliest forms, the Civil Rights Act began to open the doors for better definition of discrimination and the acknowledgement that it would no longer be a part of the “American way of life.” 

As some of you may know, the basis for this piece of legislation was set out by President John F. Kennedy to end the segregation of African Americans. Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act directly impacted the educational environment, providing for the desegregation of public education.

It was not without great resistance that this bill was signed, nor was it the first of its kind to attempt such an end to discrimination. One Senator tried to extend the definition of discrimination to also add a designation of by “sex” or gender. This keyword was soon amended and instead removed to avoid the bill being killed over further debate regarding gender discrimination. The focus was to create better rights for those on the basis of race.

"For every discrimination that has been made against a woman in this country, there has been ten times as much discrimination against the Negro," Rep. Edith Green, D-ORE

The 1964 passage created the foundation for the discrimination protections we also see in special education. Two provisions that aided in this effort were Title VI and Title VII.

Title VI prohibited discrimination based on any race, color, or national origin in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. This included the United States Department of Education and colleges which receives federal grants and funding. Title VII went on to prohibit the discrimination in employment based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion, and affiliations. Furthermore, it created protections from retaliation for those who file a complaint based on discrimination outlined in the law.

It was only a year later that President Johnson continued the Civil Rights revolution with the passage of the critical Voting Rights Act of 1965. This new piece of legislation gave federal protection against voting discrimination to minatory voters. 

As the definition of discrimination continued to embrace to other groups of people in new legislation throughout the years, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as well as others, extended this definitions specifically to individuals with disabilities. 

Our country celebrates its Independence on July 4th, but for so many true Independence as a group of people united as one, did not ultimately begin until July 2, 1964. We hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day and enjoys the drastic gains made in this great nation for all Americans.

From all of us at STOMP, a belated but still important:

Additional Information:
ABC (2014). Five Things to  Know about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (
PBS (2014). LBJ: Lyndon B Johnson.
U.S. Department of Education (2014). Protecting Students with Disabilities.
U.S. Department of Justice. (July 2009). A Guide to Disability Rights Laws

June 27, 2014

Special Education Compliance. It's Not Enough!

Special Education Compliance

“It’s Not Enough!”

Over the last week there has been an increased focus on special education in the United States. President Obama began on Tuesday in a press conference, by stating some facts that there are over 6.5 million students with disabilities within our national public school systems. To many parents who have children with special needs, this figure may not be a shock.

According the blog, Higher Expectations to Better Outcomes for Children with Disabilities, “While the vast majority of students in special education do not have significant cognitive impairments that prohibit them from learning rigorous academic content, fewer than 10 percent of eighth graders with disabilities are proficient in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)……compliance is simply not enough” (, 2014).
While the majority of states (besides DE, IA, IL, ME, MO, NC, NM, NY, OK, TX, RI, District of Columbia and other territories) met the requirements for IDEA state compliance, the data for math and reading proficiency among students with disabilities left a disturbing picture for the Department of Education. Only 18 states and territories actually met the expected requirements for how students are performing.  Below lists the states in the three categories outlined as either meeting requirements, needing assistance, or needing interventions:

The new suggested budget for 2015 included the Results Driven Accountability (RDA) Incentive grants in the form of $100 million as well as a Race to the Top Equity and Opportunity ($300 million) program to aid in identifying districts/schools with achievement gaps that require assistance. The states who receive these grants must demonstrate “commitment to using results data in their IDEA-required LEA determinations, consistent with the Department’s (DoE) RDA system, to support their efforts to implement evidence based practices that have demonstrated a positive impact on results for children with disabilities” (Department of Education, 2014). 

Michael Yudin, acting Assistant Secretary for Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, states that 
“In enacting IDEA, Congress recognized that improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities” (, 2014). 
What seems paramount here is the focus on many skills which are not primarily academic and seem to be missing from the current focus. These kinds of functional goals are every bit a part of IDEA as the academics, and for good reason! 

Accountability for states to continue raising the bar for our children with special needs has parents going on both sides of the fence. Looking forward to a much needed oversight for how states and school districts provide services to attain academic goals for students with disabilities. There are also parents who are concerned how the functional goals will begin to compare with such an emphasis on the academic achievements that will put further pressure on schools. Standardized testing has long had concerns about its ability to accurately assess children, particularly those who have disabilities.

According to an article by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD, 2014)
 “For many students with learning disabilities, with or without accommodations, standardized tests are among the worst means of assessing their abilities. Given the individual learning styles of students with LD, at DRA we feel these high stakes tests pose considerable danger to a student. A student’s performance on a high stakes test has serious consequences, but we’ve found that these tests usually don’t measure the student’s capabilities in a realistic way. Often, standardized tests are poorly devised and give very little consideration to how valid an assessment they provide of students with LD.”

After a case in Oregon, Advocates for Speak Kids (ASK) won regarding this very issue, and Oregon took extensive steps in 2001 to ensure it does not discriminate against students with learning disabilities but instead able to demonstrate their disabilities. Yet if we look at the 2014 data, Oregon is one of the states in yellow for needing additional assistance. 

Our military families in particular have unique struggles within the special education system as highly mobile families. Multiple moves during a military career mean multiple changes in schools and having to move with an IEP can often be trying for parents who do not find their children getting what has been deemed "comparable services." By the time a school and parents have the chance to accurately identify needs and and the correct services to make measurable progress, a child is often not far away from another move. Meanwhile there is the very real potential for regression while the process starts all over again. 

Not long after this, NPR (National Public Radio) conducted an interview with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to further discuss this identified issue. The apparent focus for the Department of Education is the raise an academic bar for children with special needs in order to sustain their ability to be competitive in the global economy after high school.  What has been suggested is to use more forms standardized testings to measure these academic gains of those students with disabilities.

Secretary Duncan made comments regarding increased dropout rates for children with disabilities and how there has never been a requirement for states to show academic benefit for special education, but he intends to change that. 
 “We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations, have access to a robust curriculum, they excel,” Secretary Duncan states (NPR, 2014). 
For states to continue receiving special education funding, which totals more than $11.5 billion nationally, they will be required to comply with these new guidelines and subject to oversight. The Department of Education also plans to roll out a new $50 million technical-assistance center to help achieve these expected outcomes. 

As states continue to grapple with the issues of common core standards and how these can better apply to our children with special needs, switching to more standards based grading/IEP goals, and other potential issues, parents will have to wait to see how these new guidelines play out.
Will the oversight be welcomed by parents and educators alike to help assist in providing better outcomes, or will we see an impact on services and eligibility for special education?

No matter the changes in these guidelines and the new oversight, it is important to remember that Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) has not changed as an individual entitlement for our children with special needs. These special education services as provided under an IEP or IFSP, will continue to be driven by the individual child’s need and does not negate the importance of both functional and academic goals that is defined in IDEA specifically. Parents may just find themselves having to advocate more for these functional goals in the face of pressures for academic performance from higher up.


Disability Rights Advocates (2001). Do No Harm.
National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) The Trouble with High-Stakes Testing
National Public Radio (NPR), June 24, 2014, A ‘Major Shift’ in Oversight of SpecialEducation 
U.S. Department of Education, 2014. Results Driven AccountabilityGraphics.
U.S. Department of Education, 2014. Supporting Individuals with Disabilities