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“Siri, What’s the Best App for Navy Families Enrolled in EFMP?”

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By Carla Wyrsch

As a society we are inundated with information. Our closest friends, Siri and Alexa are at our beck and call. And search engines like Google and Bing provide endless responses to our many questions. With all of this information literally at our fingertips, what is the best way to decipher what is current, relevant, and accurate? Utilizing a reputable mobile app offers faster access to accurate and streamlined content. A few added bonuses; apps can be customized to your specific preferences, send you push notifications about new content, events, etc., and can work offline. 

So why all this talk about search engines and apps in a blog post for Navy families enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)? Because as Founder and Executive Director of Partners in Promise, Michelle Norman found, “The internet is full of resources but they tend to be scattered and may not answer all questions, especially regarding special education”. As a result of her collaboration with the Navy, there is finally a place for Navy families with a family member enrolled in the EFMP to find all of the up-to-date information that anyone connected with the program may need; the Navy EFMP App. 

Military families face many unique challenges, however searching for information about the EFMP no longer has to be one of them. Like Michelle Norman, I agree “The Navy understands those challenges and created a useful app that will greatly benefit our families.” I spent several days utilizing the app and sharing it with friends who have children enrolled in the EFMP; here are our thoughts:

Organized and Easy to Navigate

Right from the welcome screen you can tell the app is organized and easy to navigate. There are three lines in the upper right corner, that when tapped provide a drop-down menu. From there you can choose the specific information you are looking for. It is also easy to navigate back and forth from tabs and resources utilizing the same three lines in the upper right corner.

This App WILL Save You Time

This app was designed to have all of the most up-to-date information all in one place.  It includes both an “Instructions Library and a “Video Library”, “Pocket Guides (flip books)”, a section for “Resources”, a “Directory” with service providers, and more. As military spouses we wear many hats and are constantly balancing the complex schedules of our family members. Michelle Norman pointed out, “For those of us on the go — sitting in waiting rooms, driving to therapies, attending IEP Meetings — this app will be a lifesaver.”

It’s a One-Stop-Shop for ALL Your FAQs

Looking for enrollment forms? Questions about ensuring an IEP is met during a PCS? What is the process for disenrolling? The answers to those questions, required forms, and much more can be found in the “FAQ” tab.

It’s Relevant to YOUR Needs 

From parenting, to medical, general, and educational all of these topics can be researched under the “Resource” tab. In addition to the four research categories mentioned above, there is also a link for, “Points of Contact”.  Within each resource folder the user can find a handful of items applicable to the specific topic and relevant to the needs of a family enrolled in the EFMP.

Takes Different Learning Styles Into Account

In addition to all of the tabs with articles, Navy Instructions, EFMP guidance, etc. the app also provides a tab for its “Video Library”. The video library provides the user with an alternative way to receive and process important information regarding the EFMP. 

Highlights News and Happenings from Around the Globe

The app utilizes two tabs to share the most up-to-date news and stories regarding the EFMP; “EFMP News” and “EFM Around the Globe”. “EFM Around the Globe” shares the good news and special events from EFMPs all around the world. While the News tab, shares the most recent EFMP Newsletters and program information for Navy families. 

You’re Going to Flip Out for “Flip Books”

The tab for “Flip Books”, is probably one of my favorite resources in the app. Think concise ebooks that contain all of the important information relevant to healthy caregiving, the Navy EFMP, or a guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Choose the topic relevant to your needs and begin flipping through choosing the information relevant to your current need. 

Get the Official Word

Looking for references to the Department of Defense or Navy Instruction? Open the “Instructions Library” tab. These resources are perfect to ensure you understand the services you are entitled to along with your rights and all current policies and procedures.

Simple, but Helpful

The “Directories” tab is essential to assist families as they PCS. The tab provides links to Fleet and Family Support Centers and Naval Branch Clinics including phone numbers, email addresses, websites, and physical addresses. The accuracy of this information is crucial; unlike an internet search, there is no doubt that the app provides accurate and complete information on this topic. 

The inception of this app is a step in the right direction for military families and showcases the Navy’s dedication to family readiness. Michelle Norman “Remains cautiously optimistic that reform is coming, especially with the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provisions on the table.” With the unveiling of this app and the progress of organizations such as Partners in Promise, I can’t help but share her optimism. To access the EFMP app, go to the Navy App Locker at https://www.applocker.navy.mil/#!/apps or download it to an Android or Apple device by accessing the associated app store.

Carla Wyrsch is a Marine Corps’ spouse and mother of two. She has devoted her career to educating and advocating for children with disABILITIES. Her experience spans a variety of settings, including residential treatment facilities, military bases, public schools, and the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Learner School for Autism. In addition to her work with children, she enjoys providing coaching sessions to both professionals and parents in the areas of behavior modification and other best practices.  



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