Tagged: military children
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The Department of Defense has canceled a controversial plan to restrict access to applied behavior analysis approaches to treatment for military children with autism.
The DoD planned to begin requiring parents of autistic children to have them tested every six months in order to continue receiving treatments under TRICARE, and show military doctors that they were demonstrating “measurable progress” under the therapy. After two years of therapy, after age 16, the Department of Defense proposed granting access to therapy only after the child had been granted a waiver.
The DoD actually planned on requiring two separate assessments – the Vineland and ADOS-2. Meanwhile, military families had been encountering long waiting lists just to get an assessment. In some cases, waits were as long as six months. In the meantime, access to health care services for autism spectrum disorder could have been cut off.
The decision sparked a firestorm of protest among autism activists and military families alike, and attracted Congressional attention from Senators Kirsten Gillebrand (D – New York), Patty Murray (D – Washington) and Mark Warner (D – Virginia), who put pressure on the Administration to roll back the contemplated changes.
“Your new policy also requires a patient show progress to receive continued care. This is a significant shift in how TRICARE covers all other medical service,” wrote Senators Murray and Gillebrand in a joint letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. “Military children with developmental disabilities such as autism often experience periods of regression due to life events (such as deployment, relocation, change in school, change in medications, etc.). Coming back from those periods of regression often takes significant time and effort (months and sometimes years), and sometimes progress may simply be the absence of regression. During these challenging times of need, discharging an individual from care is inappropriate and will have long lasting results on patient outcomes.”
And just to drive the military bonkers, the Senators signed their letter in blue ink.
It is unclear how many children the measure would directly affect: The Department of Defense estimates that there are approximately 8,500 children of active duty servicemembers with a form of autism; Autism Speaks, Inc., a prominent support group, says that there are 23,000 military children with autism.
On July 19th, the Defense Department blinked, however, and announced that there would be no changes to current access to care for active duty military members under either TRICARE Basic or the Extended Health Care Option (ECHO) program.
ECHO is a program under TRICARE that extends access to additional benefits for certain beneficiaries who are enrolled in the DoD’s Exceptional Family Member Program. Beneficiaries must be enrolled in DEERS to qualify.
In addition, the Department of Defense has announced a congressionally mandated 1-year pilot program to extend services to the children of retirees and survivors of deceased servicemembers. The pilot program begins July 25th, 2013, and is called the Enhanced Access to Autism Services Demonstration.
The platform that the DoD and TRICARE have established to provide services to children with autism-spectrum disorders is called the Enhanced Access to Autism Services Autism Services Demonstration. It covers any beneficiary registered under ECHO and who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Services include access to an expanded network of Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts and non-certified tutors. The demonstration is not available outside the United States.
To enroll, you must submit your child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Program (IEP) to your TRICARE regional contractor.
Children who are being homeschooled where the state does not require an IFSP or IEP should provide a letter from your child’s primary care doctor or a specialized professional in the field of autisms spectrum disorder. The letter should verify that the child’s autism-related disability results in impairment severe enough that it requires special education and other support services.
The services aren’t completely free of charge: Servicemembers must pay a portion of the monthly expenses, called a “cost share.” However, services provided for autism spectrum disorder count towards the annual coverage limits under ECHO.
Monthly Cost Share
If you use ECHO benefits during any calendar month, you must pick up a portion of the cost. The amount you must pay depends on the TRICARE sponsor’s rank. The higher the rank, the more you must pay. The breakdown is as follows:
Sponsor Pay Grade
Monthly Cost Share
E-1 to E-5
E-9, W-1, W-2, O-3
W-3, W-4, O-4
Costs are not shared between family members.
The total cost share for all ECHO benefits combined (not including ECHO Home Care) is $36,000 per year. As you can see, it is pretty rare for a family to reach the full cap!
Military schoolchildren have a lot of challenges. They are frequently forced to relocate every three years or so, thanks to PCS moves. They also, however, have access to the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) the federally-run school system that provides K-12 education for military families both in the U.S. and OCONUS. These can be terrific alternatives, but they aren’t for everyone. Some military parents choose to homeschool their children.
Is it legal?
Yes, homeschooling is generally legal, though some states impose more regulation and oversight on homeschooling parents than others. Some host nations may have laws concerning homeschooling that you should be aware of, as well.
Are their subsidies available?
While the vast majority of active-duty military family’s children live on or near a military installation served by a DoDEA school, there are occasionally situations where this isn’t the case. If that describes your family, you may be eligible for a subsidy to help support your homeschooling efforts, via the NDSP, or Non-Defense Schools Program. This program provides financial assistance to military families outside Canada and the United Kingdom whose children don’t live within a reasonable commuting distance from a DoD school. You can use the money to enroll your children into a local private school, an approved virtual school, or you can use it to finance a home-based education program for your children. The subsidy can be as much as $5,700 for grades K through 8 and $7,700 for grades 9-12.
Homeschoolers are not eligible, however, in the following cases:
- K-5 in the United Kingdom
- K-12 in Canada and Australia
- Areas served by a DoDEA school
Basic eligibility criteria are as follows:
- Sponsor must be a military service member serving on active duty and stationed overseas on Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders, or?A civilian employee of the Department of Defense who is employed on a permanent full time basis, assigned overseas, and is either a citizen or a national of the United States;
- Sponsors must be authorized to transport dependents* to or from an overseas area at government expense, and
- Sponsors must be provided an allowance for living quarters in that area.
- Sponsors must be assigned to a location outside the commuting area of a DoD school.
*School-aged dependents are defined as an individual:
- Who is the child, stepchild, adopted child, or ward of a DoD sponsor, residing with the sponsor, and is eligible for other command sponsorship services, postal services privileges, and?Who meets the host nation age requirement for kindergarten, and
- Has not completed secondary school and will not reach his or her 21st birthday by September 1 of the current school year (or February 1 in the southern hemisphere); or
Between 3 and 5 years of age with developmental delays and disabilities may be eligible for services if they meet the DoDEA special education criteria.
What expenses are reimbursable?
The DoD allows you to use NDSP money towards the following expenses:
- Traditional curriculum textbooks and other supplemental materials as may be appropriate for math, science, language arts, social studies, and other subjects on a grade/age appropriate basis.
- Instructional CDs/software, curriculum guides, and manipulative materials for math, etc.
- Fees charged for access to libraries and group participation in athletic, extracurricular, or music activities that are normally free of charge in U.S. public schools. Group participation is defined as a lesson or activity with enrollment open to the public, not a lesson provided exclusively for a family group (see Non-Allowable item h).
- Travel and transportation costs at post or away from post associated with these activities are not allowable.
- Fees for curriculum-related on-line Internet services such as study programs, library services, and distance.
- Required testing materials by either the formal home-study course or other authorized program.
- Advisory teaching service affiliated with the selected formally recognized home-study course.
- Tuition charges, shipping costs, lesson postage, on-line Internet and facsimile charges associated with formal recognized home-study course or other authorized program.
What Expenses Are Not Reimbursable?
The general rule is that if an educational expense is ordinarily and customarily borne by parents outside of the Department of Defense in America, then these expenses are not reimbursable under NDSP auspices. Here is a list of expenses that are not authorized for reimbursement, and parents must pay them out-of-pocket:
- Equipment such as: computers, keyboards, printers, televisions, facsimile and scanning machines, and furniture.
- Non-course specific CDs, videos, DVDs;
- General reading materials, reference materials (dictionaries, encyclopedias, globes), etc.
- Purchase or rental of items that have broader use than the course being studied (i.e. computers/laptops, computer hardware, calculators, band instruments except noted above).
- Expendable supplies (paper, pencils, markers) that are normally purchased by parents in the U.S.
- Parental training in home-study private instruction.
- Any form of compensation to the parent such as childcare or supervisory costs.
- Travel and transportation costs at post or away from post.
- Personal telephone, Internet, satellite, cable or other available communication subscription fees.
- Fees for museums, cultural events, or performances that would normally be paid by parents in the U.S.
- Private lessons.
- Membership in gymnasiums, cultural clubs, spas, and other private clubs.
- Textbooks, Bibles, workbooks, daily devotionals, or any material primarily for religious instruction.
- Insurance associated with shipping charges. (Do not elect the optional insurance.)
- Fees to an independent agency for posting credits and issuing transcripts.
To apply for the subsidy, fill out this brief spreadsheet, describing what materials you plan to be using for each child.
Next, register with the NDSP program here.
State-By-State Homeschooling Laws
Home Education Magazine maintains a state-by-state breakdown of laws as they apply to home education. Note that it is not your home of record that governs your requirements for homeschooling documentation and other regulations. It is your current location or duty station.
Stay tuned to MilitaryAuthority.com, as we’ll be posting updates and additional information on homeschooling specific to the military community here!
College graduations were happening all around us last month. With a little hard work and preparation, all those hours of study will pay off with that most coveted reward: A job.
That’s right –the job market is now full of another fresh wave of newly-minted college graduates just like you. If you haven’t already begun networking, interning, crafting a resume, volunteering and applying for work, now’s the time to get cracking.
In today’s competitive job market, it’s hard to know where to look to find professional, entry-level, well-paying positions.
Below are five solid, professional, entry-level positions for career-minded people who have earned their degree. These jobs are excellent launching pads for careers, have realistic starting salaries and offer potential for long-term professional growth.
And as a bonus, if you are a military spouse or dependent, or if you are planning to leave the service in the next year or so, working towards a degree in these fields can still pay off down the road. They are all expected to remain as hot jobs for the next few years.
If You Are: A hybrid, as keen with the technical as you are the creative. You stay abreast of technological developments, are deadline-oriented and enjoy teamwork.
And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science or related field.
Then You Can: Design Web sites and develop Web applications.
Salary and Growth Potential: Entry level Web designers generally earn a median salary of $50K. Those with more experience usually gain greater responsibility, including managing staff and more complex projects.
If You Are: An adept creator and problem solver.
And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in computer science.
Then You Can: Write and develop computer programs.
Salary and Growth Potential: Entry-level computer programmers typically earn a median salary of $54K. Those with a successful track record can grow into supervisory or managerial roles with additional responsibilities.
If You Are: Someone with superb attention to detail and a methodical approach to problem solving, with a knack for uncovering project requirements and underlying needs.
And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.
Then You Can: Develop, coordinate and manage databases.
Salary and Growth Potential: Entry-level database analysts generally earn a median salary of $55K. Solid performance usually results in advancement to supervisory and managerial level.
If You Are: An inquisitive person with excellent research skills who loves both the environment and problem solving.
And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in engineering.
Then You Can: Engineer solutions that work to control environmental health hazards.
Salary and Growth Potential: Entry-level environmental engineers usually earn a median salary of $52K while working with more experienced engineers. Successful performance will yield additional responsibility.
If You Are: An observer and appreciator of behavioral trends with keen research and strategic skills.
And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in business, marketing or economics.
Then You Can: Assist with product or service demand forecasting, demographic analysis and campaign planning.
Salary and Growth Potential: Entry-level marketing coordinators earn a median salary of $49K. Strong performance and experience can result in advancement to manager, director or vice president.
Regardless of the job field, an investment in your education is an investment in your growth potential. If you haven’t selected your degree program yet, research areas that are a good fit with your personal strengths, interests and career development potential.
Military students can also prepare by discussing their transition into school or civilian workforce with a transition counselor.
Find a school that fits your education goals with our School Finder and start planning your new career now!
‘Kaitlyn’s Law’ to Authorize TRICARE Reimbursement of Horse and Other Physical Therapies Introduced in CongressPosted by Jason Van Steenwyk
A law requiring TRICARE to fund or reimbursed certain therapies for individuals with disabilities and the severely wounded or injured was introduced this week in the House of Representatives. The Rehabilitative Therapy Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act, dubbed “Kaitlyn’s Law” by supporters, seeks to amend Title 10 with the following language:
(g) Rehabilitative therapy provided pursuant to subsection (a)(17) may include additional therapeutic exercises or therapeutic activities if such exercises or activities are included in the authorized individual plan of care of the individual receiving such therapy. Such exercises or activities may include, in addition to other therapeutic exercises or therapeutic activities, therapies provided on a horse, balance board, ball, bolster, and bench.
The law has received bipartisan sponsorship from Representative Michael Burgess (R-Texas), its primary sponsor, and from cosponsors Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Marc A. Veasey (D-Texas).
The bill has come to pass largely because of the efforts of the parents of a child named Kaitlyn Samuels, the 17-year-old daughter of a Navy officer.
Kaitlyn has severe scoliosis, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and some cognitive disabilities that render her unable to speak. She requires regular physical therapy sessions to help her develop and strengthen her back and abdominal muscles to help support the weight of her spine and upper body. If she does not regularly exercise these muscles, it is possible that she could slowly suffocate herself.
Her physical therapists had trouble finding a therapy that she would tolerate. She has limited insight into her condition and had not been cooperative with standard modes of therapy, such as benches and balance balls. But when therapists tried the same exercises on horseback, Kaitlin responded very well. According to the family, since she does not tolerate the other forms of therapy, her horseback therapy is the only thing preventing her scoliosis from curving her spine to the point where her internal organs are crushed.
Unfortunately, TRICARE officials didn’t care. At least for long. They covered the horseback therapy for a while, and then changed their minds about it, demanding over $1,300 in reimbursements from the family for payments already made.
While the standard therapies were readily approved under existing TRICARE guidelines, the same therapies done on horseback were deemed non-reimbursable. Horse therapy, or hippotherapy, as it’s called in the medical profession, was considered “unproven” by TRICARE, even though it was already proven in Kaitlyn’s particular case. The family appealed the decision through several reviews, but TRICARE ultimately ruled against them.
As we reported here last year, TRICARE officials overruled the recommendation of the hearing officer and denied the benefit – putting the government in the absurd position of approving therapies that are proven not to work while specifically denying the one therapy that was effective.
The Samuels family fought back – contacting their Congressional representatives, networking with the tight-knit community of parents of special needs children (who have some PR skills of their own!), starting a Facebook page and leveraging social media to get the word out about their private foundation.
Kaitlyn has been able to continue her therapy, thanks to generous private donations.
Meanwhile, the bill now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee.
If you’ve been in the military for any length of time, you know first-hand the reaction that comes when you hear these three little initials: P.C.S. Permanent Change of Station. When you consider that many military families relocate every two years, the “P” seems more like “Potential” than “Permanent.”
The stress that can come with relocating a family can be a major headache, or it can be fuel for excitement. The way you handle moves with your children can make all the difference. Here are a few tips:
Before the move:
- Talk it up. If you know the orders are coming, start laying the groundwork for a stress-free move by making relocation just another part of the routine. You can discuss how exciting it is to explore new parts of the amazing country we live in. Learn fun facts about different places and start a collection (my child keeps rocks from every place we’ve ever lived). You can even tack a map on the wall and wonder out loud where you’ll be stationed next time. (Important note – For this to fly, you have to genuinely be excited and full of wonder – kids can sense a phony a mile away. So if you’re not excited and looking forward to it, they won’t either. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it, and find another way to cope.)
- Plan together. Pull up a couple of chairs and go online together to map out the trip to your new home. Let the kiddos locate fun places to stop along the way – and actually stop there to have fun.
- Let them pack their own stuff. If they’re old enough to read, they’re old enough to pack their own boxes. This is a win in two ways: first, there’s one item crossed off your to-do list. Plus, little Suzy doesn’t have to worry that you’re going to throw out her collection of Monster High dolls “by accident” during the move. Giving kids control over their belongings also lets them feel a little more secure in an otherwise insecure situation, which can go a long way in helping them adjust.
On the road:
- Bring a “go” bag. Pack a suitcase of overnight clothes, toiletries and important stuff for the car – but also pack a “go” bag loaded with games, snacks, drinks, music or other special items just for them to make the drive more fun.
- Brake for fun. A lot of families build in time for a family vacation along the way. Whether that’s a trip to an amusement park, a state park, or just a stop to see the world’s largest thimble, make your time together memorable in a good way.
- Let them nest. Kids can choose where they want their belongings, and if they’re old enough, let them help direct the movers where to place the furniture.
- Get familiar with new surroundings. Explore the new post together. Find important places like school, church, shopping or favorite restaurants together.
Remember that younger kids might get confused about the difference between PCS and deployment. Reassure your youngsters that mommy and daddy aren’t going away without them and keep the lines of communication open.
Moving doesn’t have to mean stressing. You can contact your Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) representative or your unit chaplain to talk about any concerns, or find out how to talk with kids about moving. There are usually family counseling and parenting classes offered at installation family centers if you’d like to get additional help.
And remember to help your kids keep in touch with old friends even while they are developing bff’s at their new home. Before too long, you’ll have another new adventure to start, and you can trust that your children will be ready and resilient – just like their parents.
Applications are now being accepted for Operation Purple Camp, a one-weekend long summer adventure especially for children of uniformed service members who have been, are currently, or will be deployed.
Camp is free. You just have to spring for travel costs.
These camps will enable your child or children between the ages of 7 and 17 (depending on the camp and dates) to experience a number of outdoor adventures with other children from all the services going through the same experience: The deployment of a parent or guardian.
The program is occurring at 14 different sites around the country. Specific activities vary by campsite, but frequently include things like rock climbing, archery, arts & crafts, swimming, hiking and ropes courses.
Check the link above to learn the dates at each site and what ages the camp will accept.
Specific activities vary by campsite and age cohort, but frequently include things like rock climbing, archery, arts & crafts, swimming, hiking and ropes courses.
These activities are incidental, however: The main purpose of the Operation Purple Camp is to help children develop some tools to help them cope with the stress of having a family member deployed.
They are open to children of servicemembers of all ranks, and in all the services, including the Coast Guard, National Health Service and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), provided they have a family member who has been, is or will be deployed during this year’s “window” of September 2012 to December 2013.
Operation Purple Camp is affiliated with the Military Family Association – which just announced earlier this month that they received the sought-after four-star rating – the top possible score from CharityNavigator.com for efficiency and good stewardship of charitable donations – for the 10th year in a row.
For more information about Operation Purple Camp, to fill out an application for your child, to volunteer or to make a much-needed contribution, visit the Military Family Association Website.
In addition to the camps for children, Operation Purple also sponsors family retreats and Healing Adventures – a special program for families of wounded servicemembers and their families.
There are two levels to the impact of sequestration on military schoolchildren. The first is the direct impact of the payroll cuts and mandatory furloughs to the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), the federal bureaucracy within the Department of Defense that runs schools located on military posts around the world. But military families send their children to off-post schools as well – and these schools are bracing for a sharp reduction in federal “impact” aid, which they rely upon to offset the expenses of educating military children.
This impact aid is important because military people who live on post do not typically pay property taxes and while these families have children that have to be educated, these families do not directly contribute to the property tax base that traditionally funds local schools.
To qualify for federal impact aid, schools must meet one of two criteria:
- Either 400 students or 3% of the student body are children of military personnel; or
- 1000 students or 10% of the student body are children of military (both active duty
- and activated Guard and Reservist), DA, DoD, DOJ Civilians, or Government Contractors that work at federal locations/properties.
Schools can also qualify for federal funding if federal lands exempt from property tax make up more than 10 percent of the district.
Thus, sequestration will soon be affecting not just the children educated on military installations, but all schools with significant concentrations of military dependents in their student bodies. All told, schools across the country will probably lose some $60 million in sequestration cuts. It is the Department of Education, not the Department of Defense, that administers Impact aid. But this impact aid is subject to the same sequestration cuts that affect nearly every ‘discretionary program’ in the budget.
Military Children Shortchanged – Even Before the Sequester
As disruptive as the cuts to Impact Aid may be under the sequestration, they are trivial compared to the ongoing impact of neglect and chronic underfunding. According to reporting by USAToday.
The program has distributed $896 million in Federal Impact Aid for the 2010-11 school year, according to the Department of Education — $1 billion less than what those school districts were entitled to receive under the funding formula. The amount actually distributed by Congress has steadily decreased. Since fiscal year 2005-06, it has dropped from $995 million to the current $896 million.
“When the federal government doesn’t keep its end of the bargain, teachers, students, and parents all suffer,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., says via e-mail. More than 200 school districts in his state depend on the aid, he says.”
The precise effects of the cuts are unknown and will vary from district to district and from school to school. Broadly, military families can expect a reduction in paid teaching staff, resulting in turn in bigger class sizes and more crowded rooms.
Since the local school district workers are not federal employees, they are not subject to mandatory furloughs. Instead, administrators at each district or school affected have more freedom to decide how to allocate the expected cuts in school funding. Funding for nonessential programs and extracurricular activities such as music and athletics could be cut back or eliminated. We could also see rollbacks in funding after school day care or other district-funded programs and services.
Schools are already cutting back in anticipation of the cuts. One school eliminated math and science teaching positions and cut back baseball, cross-country and swimming.
If the cuts continue into the next fiscal year, some districts warn that some schools could close altogether, since they will not have funding to staff or maintain them.
Tiffany Nicole Klapheke, an Air Force spouse, has been indicted in the death of her 22 month-old daughter Tamryn through apparent neglect. Tamryn died last August 28th while in military housing on Dyess Air Force Base.
MilitaryAuthority.com first covered the tragic story here.
A grand jury indicted Klapheke on three counts of injury to a child. Tamryn apparently died from the withholding of food, water and basic care. Her husband was deployed at the time.
At least four Child Protective Services workers are also under investigation for possibly covering up evidence related to Tamryn’s neglect. The Abilene Department of Child Protective Services had concluded an investigation into the family’s ability or willingness to provide care. These four CPS workers have been placed on paid leave pending the results of the investigation, according to reporting by the Reporter News.
Klapheke is currently in jail awaiting trial.
Shortly after Tamryn’s death and her arrest, Tiffany Nicole Klapheke told a local television station that she became overwhelmed with depression, and that no one from the base had checked on her or asked her if she needed anything.
But according to the Reporter News, the Klapheke family had been the subject of previous neglect investigations at least three times, dating back to April of 2010. The Reporter News also reports that the Dyess AFB Family Advocacy clinic was involved in the investigations. The Klapheke family was under investigation for medical neglect of one or more of their children in 2011, though the case was closed in October of 2011 and medical neglect ruled out, according to CPS documents.
When Tamryn was found unresponsive and brought to the hospital, it had apparently been two weeks since she last had a diaper change, according to the examining physician. She also weighed only 17.5 pounds – severely underweight for a 22-month old. She had chemical burns on her body from prolonged exposure to her own waste.
A new supervisor at the Abilene Child Protective Services office actually closed an investigation only six days prior to Tamryn’s death. This was in apparent violation of regulations that required an in-person visit with the family before closing any investigations.
“You want to see the family again because you don’t know what might have changed since you saw them,” Crimmins said.
The employee hadn’t seen the family in about 10 months when she closed the case, he said. She resigned a couple of weeks after Tamryn Klapheke died.
Three individuals from the Abilene CPS office and at least one individual from the Wichita Falls office are under investigation for possibly tampering with or withholding evidence from law enforcement officers concerning the Klapheke case.
Meanwhile, another Airman, Senior Airman Christopher Perez, is also facing a number of UCMJ charges in connection with Tiffany Klapheke. Perez admits to having had a sexual affair with Tiffany Klapheke while her husband was deployed, and lived with her and the children for several weeks. Charges against him include adultery, child endangerment and neglect. He is currently confined to post.
The two other Klapheke children, aged six months and three years, have been placed in foster care. Their father, a USAF airman, has been transferred back to Dyess AFB. He is not at this time suspected of wrongdoing or neglect.