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SECAF’s top 10 themes discussed at spouse, family forum

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- During a spouse and family forum hosted by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in October, participants submitted more than 170 threads on the forum’s event page. The topics included spouse employment and child care access; Air Force programs for families with special needs; and schools, assignments, deployments and reintegration. Based on common questions and themes, below are the top 10 concerns presented by Air Force families.

Spouse employment information

Spouses have options to connect to federal and private sector employers. Guidance on job assistance, resume building and other useful employment tools and resources are provided at local civilian personnel offices and Airman and Family Readiness Centers.

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership includes more than 335 employers who have committed to recruiting, hiring, promoting and retaining military spouses. For more information about these employers and employment opportunities visit the MSEP Career Portal.

The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program has a database that provides a variety of scholarships for military spouses. For more information, visit the MySECO website.

Licensure and credentialing portability for spouses

All states have enacted broad legislation that improves license endorsement for military spouses, provides temporary licenses and expedites their applications. Of the 50 states, 38 have improved endorsement, 47 have temporary licensure and 37 have expedited applications. Due to inconsistencies, the Defense – State Liaison Office will be working with the University of Minnesota in 2017 to evaluate the actions taken by selected boards within all 50 states.

More accessible child care

The Air Force continues to explore options to meet child care needs. Options include extending hours at child development centers, using family child care providers and partnering with qualified community based providers. The Air Force Child and Youth Programs operations and installation support team is working with installations who are having challenges recruiting FCC providers and maximizing their CDC space to assist them with meeting the needs of that community.  

Different graduation requirements for children following PCS

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Military Children’s Interstate Compact which covers waiver requirements and permissible alternatives of obtaining required coursework so that high school students can graduate on time. Airmen and families who have questions or concerns regarding the MCIC should visit their installation’s Airman and Family Readiness Center and School Liaison Officer for assistance. For more information on the MCIC, click here.

High School Seniors Assignment Deferment

The High School Seniors Assignment Deferment is designed to decrease turbulence and increase stability for military families with dependent children entering their senior year of high school. Members who meet eligibility requirements can defer an assignment for up to one year. HSSAD requests are considered on a case-by-case basis with the goal of approving as many requests as possible while meeting mission needs. For more information on the HSSAD program contact your local Force Support Squadron, or log into the MyPers website,.

Continuous EFMP care during PCS

While traveling, TRICARE beneficiaries should consult with their case manager to set up necessary referrals at temporary locations where care may be required. Visit TRICARE for more information on how to access services while traveling.

The Extended Care Health Option also provides case management services to include facilitating care when families have a permanent change of station. For more information on ECHO, click here.

EFMP medical recommendation versus necessity

When documentation submitted for an EFMP dependent stating access to a specific specialty, subspecialty, super subspecialty, and clinic or treatment center is a necessity, the medical review board has to verify the medical standard of care management for the specific illness or disease. Approval for travel to the gaining location is based upon the standard of care management. 

Privatized housing priority for EFMP families

The Air Force is sensitive to the needs of families who require homes that can accommodate special accessibility requirements. EFMP families with a requirement for an accessible home would have priority over other members on the wait list when an accessible home is available. If, when the family first arrives at the installation, suitable homes aren’t available, the family may be placed on a waiting list until the privatized housing office can match them to an appropriate home that meets their specific needs.   

Adequate special educational service for children

In the U.S., states are federally mandated to provide early intervention or special education services as they are outlined on an Individualized Family Service Plan or an Individual Education Program. If families are experiencing difficulties in obtaining early intervention or special education services as outlined on an IFSP or IEP, it is recommended they consult the school liaison officer at the A&FRC. Each state has a Parent Training and Information Center to assist any family with special education issues. For more information, click here. In addition, click here for information on the special military parent technical assistance center.

Lack of consistency in the Key Spouse Program

Commanders appoint key spouse volunteers and provide guidance and expectations for these volunteers in their units. The local A&FRC conducts Key Spouse training and ensures commanders, key spouses, and key spouse mentors receive standardized guidebooks for their respective roles. Additionally, the chief of staff of the Air Force sends a letter to commanders stating his support of the key spouse program. 

To see all the topics discussed during the forum, visit the Secretary of the Air Force’s official Facebook page, and click on events. Still have questions? Participate in the Facebook Town Hall, hosted by James, Dec. 12, 2016, from 11-11:45 a.m. EST, where she will follow up on these topics and more.

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