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EFMP – Moving beyond the Q code

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Exceptional Family Member Program, formerly known as Special Needs Identification and Coordination program, has been around for more than a few years. The purpose of the EFMP is to help our military families move to new assignments by identifying family-unique medical and educational needs and by ensuring those needs can be met at the projected new duty location.

AFI 40-701, Medical Support to Family Member Relocation and Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), directs enrollment in the EFMP for those active duty family members who have special medical, emotional and educational needs. The purpose of identifying sponsors and their family members with special needs is to determine the ongoing medical and educational services required by the family based on specific conditions and to facilitate specialized services at the current and projected duty assignments. Enrollment in the EFMP initiates an assignment limitation code - the "Q" code - which triggers special care and services for the family in advance of their permanent change of station.

The 21st Medical Group participated in several town hall meetings and Caring for People forums at Peterson and Schriever AFBs over the last year and quickly came to realize that there was much more we could do to take care of our families with special needs. In January 2012, we initiated an EFMP program review called a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis.

An FMEA is in the 'family' of an AFSO-21 Rapid Improvement Event or a Lean operations Value Stream Mapping process review. An FMEA is a deliberate and proactive process used to identify where and how programs can fail, to gauge the impact of failure and to triage parts of the process that are the most critical. In our FMEA, we included all POCs from across our medical group and the 21st Force Support Squadron to ensure we reviewed all "pressure points." We assessed all steps in the process from a program compliance perspective and then, even more importantly, from the individual family's standpoint.

Together with the 21st FSS, we have embraced new changes to the EFMP that better streamline processes and delineate responsibilities. For instance, SNIAC, now EFMP-M (Medical), includes identification, enrollment and the family member relocation clearance process. Family Support is now EFMP-FS (Family Support) and includes information and referral services and assistance with accessing community resources. Assignment processing is now EFMP-A (Assignments) and includes assignment relocation assistance for families who need EFMP reassignment consideration. We believe the common terminology and consistent messaging and language will lead to better service.

The FMEA has helped us refocus our efforts where it makes the most sense. The 21st Medical Group has realigned resources to guarantee families have better, more timely, care coordination through PCS transitions. This will go a long way to alleviate those stresses experienced by our families that are associated with family relocations. The approach will incorporate a 'warm-handoff' with our EFMP families' gaining bases to ensure all required services are pre-coordinated and ready to access upon the family's arrival. The aim is to provide continuity of care and services for our families during PCS transition which will further alleviate many of the stressors associated with moving.

Families will benefit from better collaboration between Peterson's EFMP-FS and EFMP-M experts. We identified the need to better market this program to ensure our families are getting the word and better understand the program. For instance, Medical and Family Support will brief Right Start as a team with integrated information for PCS and medical clearances in addition to other opportunities for community outreach. The EFMP program now has a Facebook page (enter "Peterson AFB EFMP" in the search window of your Facebook page). Please "Like" us and gain access to additional information and join a valuable forum for program discussions that's managed by EFMP-FS. Additionally, there are resources identified on the USAF Services Portal website (https://www.usafservices.com/Home.aspx) -- select "Spouse Support" then link to "Special Needs." Jackie Wickham is the EFMP-FS point of contact, and she does a wonderful job relaying informative events and opportunities for special needs families to engage with community resources.

Our FMEA also identified a barrier for the EFMP -- an unfortunate "stigma" associated with it. It is believed by many active duty members that enrollment in EFMP can negatively impact their military career. This is simply not the case. Rather, the EFMP exists to help families succeed by ensuring they are embraced by the supporting services their family truly needs. Our improved EFMP-M family member relocation process "warm handoff" will prevent active duty assignment failures caused by insufficient support services at the family's new assignment. We believe this promotes mission success and enhanced duty performance. However, in order to effectively do our EFMP-M and -FS parts, we must have the family's full participation in the program...it is imperative that our family's realize there is no stigma with the EFMP and provide us with a full overview of their unique situation. We in-turn, will ensure they are PCSd to a location that is ready and eager to meet their needs.

Together with Family Support, it is our privilege to serve our families and help them successfully navigate thru the PCS process to locations that are equipped to best meet their needs. The 21st MDG is committed to making this program a success and believe our FMEA has driven program enhancements that will truly make a difference.

The 21st Medical Group, EFMP-M, office is located in the Peterson main clinic and can be reached at peterson.efmpm@us.af.mil or 556-1392. The 21st Force Support Squadron, EFMP-FS, office is located at the Airman and Family Readiness Center and can be reached at 556-6141.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui