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One of your biggest priorities as a military parent is making sure your children are healthy, happy, and able to successfully adjust when you are reassigned.
Fortunately, the Department of Defense recognizes the unique challenges military parents face and has created several sites to help answer any questions or problems you may encounter.
On this site, we will only take a cursory look at some of the challenges of moving with children. For more in-depth information, we recommend the sites listed at the bottom of the page.
As a parent, you should understand children are especially vulnerable during major life changes such as a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). In addition to just the logistics of relocating, you will need to consider each child's educational, social, and emotional needs.
Unfortunately, not every PCSing falls neatly in line with school calendars. This means your children might have to adjust to a new school environment, new classmates, and a different teacher expectations during the middle of the scholastic calendar.
Here's a list of potential conflicts, according to the DoD (see http://www.dodea.edu/):
• Immunization Requirements
• Kindergarten Entrance Age
• School Calendars
• Entrance and Exit Testing
• Course Content and Sequencing
• Attendance and Discipline Regulations
• Scheduling (block, semester, year-round, etc.)
• Graduation Requirements
• Special Education Qualifications and Services
• English as a Second Language Services
• Extracurricular Activities and Eligibility
• Transferring Records
• Scholarship Availability (Residency requirements could disqualify some students from state tuition reductions or scholarships.)
It is not uncommon for children to struggle with “fitting in,” making new friends, and longing for old friends. Be sure to show your children extra attention, especially until they can make a successful adjustment. E-mail and phone calls can help your children maintain contact with friends left behind, and extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs are a great way for your children to make new friends.
According to the Department of Defense, some common emotional issues children may face include . . .
If your child seems to struggle for more than six weeks, you should consider seeking professional guidance and help for your child.
For more information, we invite you to visit the following websites:
Moving can be cool [http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=120984] is a site geared for military kids and teens. It addresses concerns they may have such as packing, saying goodbye to old friends, and making new friends.
http://kids.gov/ is an official U.S. Government site for elementary school age students
http://www.defense.gov/ is the Department of Defense's comprehensive site, addressing many topics and concerns parents with children may have.
One of the many questions we have when PCSing to a new duty station is: Where will my kids go to school. For kids PCSing is one of the most devastating things happening to them. The first thing is what about all the friends they have at the school they have known for so long.
There are several website out there that could give you more information about the schools at your next duty station and help in overcoming that devastation. Here are a few :
Education Directory for Children with Special Needs. http://apps.militaryonesource.mil/MOS/f?p=EFMP_DIRECTORY:HOME:0
There is a lot of good information on Military Youth on the Move. http://apps.militaryonesource.mil/MOS/f?p=123:23:0
A child must be:
Five years old by September 1 to enroll in kindergarten.
Four years old by September 1 to attend pre-kindergarten or Sure Start
Six years old by September 1 to attend first grade.
Overseas vs Domestic School Eligibility
DoDEA eligibility & enrollment policies differ between the two types of schools. The following information provides information about eligibility for the 2 types of DoDEA schools.
Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS)
*DoDEA Americas Schools
*DDESS Guam Schools
Eligibility within territories, possessions and commonwealths of the United States.
Eligibility Requirements for Minor Dependents to Attend Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools.
The following information summarizes the eligibility criteria.
Tuition-free Students are eligible to attend on a tuition-free basis if they are dependents of:
Military and civilian employees of DoD living on the installation.
Military members on active duty, stationed or home-ported in the territory, possession, or commonwealth and not residing in permanent quarters.
Military members on active duty who have been assigned to a remote location or unaccompanied tour of duty and their dependents have been authorized by designated location move orders to reside in the territory, possession, or commonwealth.
Full-time DoD civilian employees, occupying a position that is subject by policy and practice to transfer in a territory, possession, or commonwealth and not residing in government quarters.
Full-time, permanent, professional excepted service employees of the DDESS Arrangement not residing in permanent quarters on a military installation.
DoD Contractors are not eligible to attend DDESS
Dependent children of full-time civilian employees of non-DoD Federal agencies (whether they are or are not residing in government quarters), IF the employing agency certifies that they occupy a position that is subject by policy and practice to transfer in a territory, possession, or commonwealth AND THE EMPLOYING AGENCY AGREES to reimburse the DoD for the educational services provided.
Note: DDESS schools are not authorized to accept tuition payments from individuals.
Note: Residence in permanent living quarters on a military installation served by a DDESS school program does NOT guarantee eligibility to attend the DDESS schools. Sponsors are required to meet the criteria listed above, regardless of residence. DDESS is not authorized to enroll students whose sponsor does not meet the eligibility criteria.
Department of Defense Schools (DoDDS)
*DoDEA Pacific Schools
*DoDEA Europe Schools
The Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) was established to provide high quality education for authorized dependents of DoD personnel assigned overseas, and to provide enrollment on a space-available, tuition-paying basis for others identified and prioritized by the Secretary of Defense
Qualified dependents are authorized to enroll in one of four enrollment categories based on the request of the sponsor. Dependents in enrollment category 1 receive first priority, all others are enrolled on a space-available basis in priority of category of enrollment. Find out more about the DoDDS Enrollment Categories.
Ensuring that military children get an excellent education is a top priority for defense officials, and they have reiterated that priority this year, recognizing that education is a stabilizing influence in the lives of children, as well as important to recruitment, retention and morale for the force.
There are 1.2 million school-age children with a parent in the military. About 86,000 attend schools operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity on military installations.
School officials — both in DoDEA and in the civilian community — increasingly are working to make the transition easier for children when they move from one school to another because a military parent changes duty stations.
More than two-thirds of the states have adopted a new Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children — meaning they agree to implement policies to help level the educational playing field for military children as they move from one state to another. These states educate more than 80 percent of military children attending off-base schools.
Groups such as the Military Child Education Coalition and the Military Impacted Schools Association have been working with schools on a variety of issues related to military children. Defense officials also have begun working with school districts that want to learn more about helping military children in transition and in dealing with aspects of the military lifestyle.
DoDEA schools are grouped into two systems: the stateside Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools, or DDESS, and the overseas Department of Defense Dependents Schools, or DoDDS. DoDEA schools are fully accredited by U.S. accreditation agencies.
Domestic schools. DDESS operates 70 schools, mostly elementary, at 16 installations in seven states, Puerto Rico and Cuba, serving more than 27,000 students. The schools offer pre-kindergarten through 12th grade for eligible children who live on those installations.
Overseas schools. DoDDS operates 79 schools in Europe and serves about 35,000 school-age children of active-duty military and federal civilian employees. In the Pacific, DoDDS serves more than 24,000 students in 45 schools across Japan, South Korea, Okinawa and Guam.
DoDEA schools in Europe and the Pacific are free for children of service members and federal civilian employees. Enrollment is guaranteed for “command-sponsored" children, those whom the active-duty member has official approval to bring overseas at government expense. Children without command sponsorship can enroll for free if space is available.
Graduation. DoDEA’s high school graduation requirement is 26 credits. For more information on required courses, visit www.dodea.edu/students/graduation.cfm
Virtual high school. DoDEA’s virtual high school eventually will offer a complete curriculum of courses necessary for a student to graduate from high school. The virtual high school helps transitioning DoDEA students by allowing them to take necessary classes regardless of their location.
Forty-four courses are available, including some Advanced Placement courses. Eligibility is the same as for brick-and-mortar schools; if a course is offered at a local DoDEA school, the student would be required to attend that course unless there is a scheduling conflict.
Special education programs. DoDEA provides free education to students with disabilities who are entitled to enroll in the military’s overseas and stateside schools. The school system serves children with mild to severe disabilities. Programs are offered for children with learning, physical, communication or emotional impairments.
Preschool services are provided for disabled children as young as 3. Active-duty members must enroll children with disabilities in the Exceptional Family Member Program, which helps ensure the child’s educational and medical needs can be met.
All services have the EFMP but are organized differently. The Army and Marine Corps have EFMP advocates in installation family centers, while the Navy and Air Force have EFMP program and special-needs coordinators in their medical treatment facilities.
Contact: Department of Defense Education Activity, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1635. Overseas schools, 703-588-3051; Special education office, 703-588-3148; www.dodea.edu
Contact information can be obtained from the DoD main website: http://www.dodea.edu/Offices/Communications/contact.cfm
SOAR is an innovative program that makes it easy for parents to play an active role in their children’s education. SOAR was designed for military families, and can be easily accessible worldwide or from any military base.
Students take an assessment aligned to state standards, and SOAR directs them to individualized tutorials to improve skills where needed. Parents can monitor their children’s progress from anywhere, and are provided with resource materials.
Directly from SOAR web site: www.soarathome.com
SOAR (Student Online Achievement Resources) is a program for military families and the school districts that serve them. It aims to address the unique challenges facing military children in our nation’s public schools, while benefiting the overall student population.
SOAR Home is an internet-based application, which is easily accessible worldwide. www.soarathome.com
The Military Impacted Schools Association (MISA) sponsors SOAR in partnership with the University of Northern Iowa, The Princeton Review, and Skills Tutor. We have come together to provide resources to assist with the unique challenges for military children. Our hope is that SOAR will help children improve in their academic endeavors, and ease the transition of moving from one military installation to another. While we are working to assist the 550,000 children of our military personnel, we know that their classmates will also be the beneficiary of these resources.
You know there is only one person who knows what it’s like PCSing with school aged kids and that’s you. So we ask you for all your IDEAS and subjects that should be covered in PCSing, so we may expand this section along with all the others. We are also looking for PCSing videos and stories, good and bad. But most of all, information that would help the next mother or father out when PCSing with Kids. Click her and submit your information and Photos. THANKS!