The Foreign Service Journal, April 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2020 41 Donna Scaramastra Gorman’s articles have appeared in Time magazine , Newsweek, The Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor. A Foreign Service spouse, she has lived in Amman, Moscow, Yerevan, Almaty, Beijing and northern Vir- ginia. Formerly an associate editor for the Journal , she is currently posted in Moscow with her husband and children. She would like to thank the numerous parents and others in the department who shared their views on SNEA, none of whom wished to be named in print. Senior management in the Bureau of Medical Services did not respond to requests for information. The special needs education allowance program had become almost impossible to navigate. Will the new SNEA policy make a difference? BY DONNA SCARAMASTRA GORMAN SNEA? What'sNext for FOCUS ON CAREER AND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT Y ou don’t really think about most allowances until you need them. Still, problems with the special needs education allowance (SNEA) have been bubbling up for several years now, as Foreign Service parents of special needs children fought with the Bureau of Medical Services (MED) and with the broader State JEFFMOORES Department for support and recognition of the issues they face as they try to bid on, get to, and survive at overseas posts. In response to the pressure, the State Department decided in 2017 to review the matter. The department’s SNEA task force included representatives from MED, human resources, AFSA and the Foreign Service Families with Disabilities Alliance, a group of FS members that advocates on behalf of families with special needs children. In December 2019 the task force completed its work, and the department presented a revamped SNEA policy that was outlined in the newest section of the Foreign Affairs Manual, 3 FAM 3280, and accompanying changes to the Department of State Standardized Regulations. But are these changes making a difference? A Brief History Over the past few years, the problems FS families have been encountering with SNEA have been covered extensively in The Foreign Service Journal , with both parents and depart- ment officials weighing in. From there, the issue moved into the wider world, with outlets such as The Washington Post and