The Foreign Service Journal, July/August 2018

10 JULY-AUGUST 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS Be What You Say You Are I amwriting in response to Medical Director Charles Rosen- farb’s comments in the May issue (Letters-Plus). As I read them I thought tomyself, my goodness, this is the Bureau of Medical Services I want to deal with. Where can I find this MED that wants to provide the “educational services [children] require to fully flower and grow”? Dr. Rosenfarb suggests transparency in policies. Yet I had an in-depth conversa- tion with one of the MED doctors, asking for a copy of the policies they were using to guide their decisions. She said she was not at liberty to share those policies. I verified that confusing comment in a follow-up email, which she acknowledged was accurate. I am currently seeking summer ser- vices for my son but was denied the full plan provided by his Learning Support Team. When I requested references to the policies guiding that denial, I was told: “From our team’s assessment …we have … determined what would be most likely allowable under DOS regulation.” My impression is that MED and the Child and Family Program pick and choose which laws and rules they want to follow. They hold families to the restric- tions of each guideline, but fail to uphold the requirements outlined in the Depart- ment of State Standardized Regulations and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, claiming that because we do not live in the United States they are not obligated to protect the rights of our disabled children. MED/CFP has reiterated through words and actions that they “function as my child’s Individual Education Plan.” Dr. Rosenfarb gives an example of a family with a child who is two years behind. He says: “I can think of few things more heartbreaking than to see a child fall further behind.” Yet this is my son’s story. He is two years behind, bat- tling a number of disabilities; and when the IEP team advised summer services to help prevent regres- sion, CFP’s response was to authorize only what is “standard” rather than follow the guidance of professional educators. This is the antithesis of the Individual Education Plan, where educators who know and work with the child determine his or her individual needs. In the United States, if the team determines needs, it is against the law for the district to fail to follow those recommendations. MED/ CFP does not knowmy kid and, therefore, should not be altering his education plan. Dr. Rosenfarb continues: “Yet in our efforts to avoid outcomes potentially harmful to children, we sometimes end up at odds with parents facing difficult choices.” As a parent, an advocate and an educator, I can say MED is the party culti- vating the “potentially harmful” outcomes. It seems to me, when in doubt, one should err on the side of the child/fam- ily. To quote President John F. Kennedy: “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private home and dreamwhich, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” Dr. Rosenfarb, please, love our chil- dren, care for them, be everything you said you were in your article. Their future depends on it. Lisa Stewart FS family member Embassy Manila Nothing More Than PR I read with great interest Dr. Rosenfarb’s response (May FSJ ) to Kathi Silva’s March FSJ article that raised concerns regarding MED’s lack of support to Foreign Service families who have children with disabili- ties. Unfortunately, his response didn’t constructively address even a single spe- cific concern she raised, and was nothing more than a PR piece. Until MED offers more transparency, accountability and parental involvement in all areas affecting children with disabilities, the trust betweenMED and FS families will only continue to deteriorate. Unfortu- nately, Dr. Rosenfarb’s article didn’t inspire much confidence in that regard. Rather than responding to the very real concerns raised by Kathi Silva, Dr. Rosen- farb provides lip service and platitudes while maintaining a condescending “MED knows best” mantra. His example of a child who is two years behind in school and faced with limited services due to parental neglect is disingenuous, at best, and fear- mongering at worst. I have yet tomeet one FS family that would intentionally put their child at risk in the way he describes, let alone act so irresponsibly as to arrive at a post only to “curtail weeks later” due to a lack of neces- sary services. I would be interested to see any statistics on the prevalence of this. Dr. Rosenfarb also implies that MED is the only resource with accurate informa- tion regarding services at post, and that parents should be grateful for MED’s expertise. He completely disregards the days, weeks andmonths spent by these families researching posts, talking to doc- tors and other families, and inmany cases coming to different conclusions regarding the resources available at posts. Rather than work with the families and explore the options parents have found for their children, MED routinely ignores and