The Marine Corps Special Needs Evaluation Review Team (SNERT) consists of qualified personnel whose goal is to make an assessment of the accommodations necessary for a special needs child to participate in Marine Corps Children, Youth and Teen Programs (CYTP) and to determine the most appropriate placement for the child. An installation’s SNERT reports to the installation commander and includes, at a minimum, the CYTP Administrator, EFMP Coordinator, medical personnel, parent(s), the child or youth when appropriate, and other applicable CYTP or community agency personnel.
Children who require medical or educational intervention, assistance, or other accommodations are eligible for services. This includes, but is not limited to, children with autism, asthma, allergies, hearing impairment, orthopedic impairment, developmental delays, behavioral issues, specific learning disablement, and mental, physical, or emotional challenges. Upon request for services, the SNERT will make an assessment of the accommodations necessary for a special needs child to participate and determine the most appropriate placement.
Parents can read Marine Corps Order P1710.30E, "Marine Corps Children, Youth and Teen Programs," 24 June 2004 for more information on SNERT.
Currently with my husband deployed, my mom is my respite care provider. She's received permission from his CO and housing to live on base with me and it has been invaluable for Olivia's care and therapy. I think she is MUCH farther ahead than she would be otherwise because of the level of care and therapy she is receiving from both of us on a daily basis.
I want to take her out to thank her, and give us both a day of fun filled relaxation with no kids. But.. SHE is my respite care provider. So I looked into putting Olivia in the CDC (Child Development Center) on base for drop in care and found that I needed to do a SNERT to enroll her.
It was a little surreal - kind of like an IEP meeting for preschoolers. The director of the CDC was there; a representative from the EFMP office (Exceptional Family Member Program); and a nurse. I was told that a representative from EDIS (Educational Developmental Intervention Services) would also be there, but I think she was unavailable on such short notice.
The director interviewed me and asked me about Olivia's medical history and potential issues. It was hard to explain what was wrong with Olivia, because while I was stating the facts, she actually does better day to day right now than it sounded. It was sort of the feeling you get as a special needs parent when you think your child is doing great and your life has settled into "normal" right up until you go to the doctor's office and they make you fill out the questionnaire on developmental milestones - and you realize how far behind she really is. The director sounded really anxious and nervous, and every time I told her something it seemed she worried more and more. The CDC's have only recently begun accepting federal money for their food programs and so they have to abide by the disability inclusion laws for education. Prior to that, they did not.
The nurse kept trying to talk me into having Olivia taken care of at a local family provider home on base - basically a home child care business run by a mom. There are quite a few providers on both bases available for this option.
The EFMP director is AMAZING and she actually has seen Olivia in action. She was there basically to observe and facilitate as needed for my rights. She kept quiet most of the time, just listening as we went back and forth between the director and the nurse and myself. I had to keep saying things like, "Ok, let me wrap my mind around this and make sure I understand you - You are telling me that you are uncomfortable with your ability to supply her needs and take care of her at the CDC and you want me to take her to a Family Home Provider instead" (which is illegal). The nurse would come back with, "Well, I just think you would be happier if you took her to a Family Home Provider who could provide a more individualized level of care because there are less children in the home". It was all very tricky and subtle how they worded things.
I really wanted her in the CDC for several reasons, not the least of which was socialization with other children her age. We've had to keep her seperated for so long because of health issues, I really think she needs to be around a lot of other little kids close to her age. Finally the EFMP rep stepped in and said one sentence and they sort of all fell in line and agreed to have her come to the CDC. They want me to put her in care this Friday for a trial run while I am still close by in case anything happens they have questions about. It's all so strange to me - they called me 3 times after I left the meeting to ask questions about her development level and kind of sounding panicky every time I gave an answer.
Here are some of the issues they had:
Can she sit in a chair (the other kids sit in chairs and self feed)?
Can she drink from a sippy cup?
Can she have the lunch they provide?
Can she eat solids?
Can she follow their schedule?
Can she sit up?
Can she feed herself?
They really didn't give me the impression they were too thrilled with having to do the extra work it would take to have Olivia there - feed her by bottle, feed her by spoon, put her in a high chair, etc. They actually asked me to bring my own high chair. I am providing the food, the spoon, the milk in a thermos already mixed in bottles, the bib for her.... It sounds like this huge deal and really it's no different from having to watch an 11-12 month old.