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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

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DECEMBER 2016

13

You Are Our Eyes & Ears! Dear Readers: In order to produce a high-quality product, the FSJ depends on the revenue it earns from advertising. You can help with this. Please let us know the names of companies that have provided good service to you — a hotel, insurance company, auto dealership, or other concern. A referral from our readers is the best entrée! Ed Miltenberger Advertising & Circulation Manager Tel: (202) 944-5507 Email: miltenberger@afsa.org

process in which we all felt a responsi-

bility both to my child and to the U.S.

government.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the

case, and the change dates from

the creation of the Child

and Family Program. The

Journal

article notes that

several factors contributed

to establishment of the new

program. Notably, providing

improved support to special

needs children and their

families was not listed as a

reason for the change. This is

consistent with what we now

experience.

The need for a more “uniform code

of practice” has led to a “lowest com-

mon denominator” approach, where

services approved in the past are no

longer being approved in spite of

extensive medical documentation and

their inclusion in the Individual Educa-

tion Plan—the two requirements for

approval.

The article notes that “a number

of endeavors” are underway, aimed

at “improving oversight, consistency

and accountability of the educational

allowance.” Regrettably, once again,

improving the education of our chil-

dren—fulfilling the original purpose

of the education allowance—is not

mentioned.

The article’s statement that the

education allowances are designed to

“assist in defraying those costs neces-

sary to obtain educational services that

are ordinarily provided free of charge

by public schools in the United States”

is a subtle, but significant, alteration of

the original wording, which states that

the education allowances are meant to

assist employees in meeting those costs.

It is clearly costs, and not the educa-

tional needs of our children, that are

driving this process.

As the article notes, the Depart-

ment of State Standardized Regulations

requires an IEP that “delin-

eates which educational ser-

vices are required.” However,

having a service listed in a

child’s IEP no longer means

that CFP will actually autho-

rize that service.

Without consulting the

school or medical provider

who developed the IEP, the

CFP is now making unilat-

eral decisions on which services

listed in the IEP they deem “necessary”

and, thus, covered. CFP professionals,

sitting in Washington, are overriding

recommendations made by the educa-

tional experts who work with the special

needs child on a daily basis.

Someday we will realize how short-

sighted and harmful these policies have

been. The Individuals with Disabili-

ties Education Act is the U.S. law that

provides funding for “specially designed

instruction, at no cost to the parents, to

meet the unique needs of the child with

a disability.” This is the standard the

Special Needs Education Allowance was

intended to meet.

Under CFP, instead of a case man-

ager who actually knew my child as

an individual and helped the overseas

school and our family meet his educa-

tional needs, I have had several staff

members repeat exhaustive reviews of

my child’s eligibility criteria. Each time

it has been an onerous and labori-

ous process to turn around summary

judgments intended to deny necessary

services he has received for years that

are clearly justified in his IEP.

These are not just growing pains.

These are direct consequences of a

policy where cost control and standard-

ization are no longer important factors

alongside individual needs—they have

become the overwhelming factors in

SNEA decision-making.

CFP needs to swing the pendulum

more toward the center and once again

make this a truly consultative process

with parents and overseas educational

providers, treating each child as an indi-

vidual who has a purpose and future in

this life. For this, they need an educa-

tion of their own.

n

Name withheld upon request.