New program to assist military families with their children with special needs

Feb 4 2010 - 10:15am

In this Year of the Air Force Family, the Air Force has stepped up its efforts to provide resources to families who have children with special needs. The 75th Air Base Wing Airman and Family Readiness Center and the School Liaison Officer, Judith Maughan, have recently teamed up with the Utah State University to start the Military Family Support 360 project to identify and support military families that have dependents with developmental disabilities.

The grant-funded, five-year project will provide each targeted family with individualized planning related to education, early intervention and child care. Most of this assistance will come from the newly hired Special Needs Navigator, Tammy Custer, who has been a military spouse for 23 years and has two children of her own who have been identified as having special needs.

"We have travelled extensively while in the Air Force," Custer said, "and I understand the stigma that parents feel is attached to going on base for resources for your child (with special needs). The Air Force is working to change that now."

Custer will work with a group of professionals, educators and military parents of children with special needs to improve how Hill provides and arranges for the needs of its families. An informational summit will be held March 31 at Club Hill, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., to bring together families with children with special needs and the organizations that are available to help them.

"This will provide the chance to help determine which direction we should go in (with this program). It will help identify where the needs and weaknesses are," said Custer.

She said there are things families wish they had known when they first become "Q-coded," a military identification for families with a child with special needs, and there are opportunities they still may not know are available to them.

Registration is not required to attend this summit.

Custer says her services are also available to other Department of Defense employees, as well. "The program is mainly for active duty military, but if there are people who work at Hill Air Force Base, Mrs. Maughan can work as a liaison for them as well."

For more information about the Military Family Support 360 program or the summit, contact Custer or Maughan at (801) 775-5960.

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