“Hi, are you new here?” the words often heard and repeated at the height of PCS season by military families who are “left behind.” The new faces at the pool, park, and in the ice cream truck line abound!
The next step for those that are new to that location is tackling the new school paperwork.
And then there is that dreaded page.
The page where they ask for emergency contacts.
Ugh! Hello! Just moved here – we don’t know anyone besides the driver who is driving our stuff from our last duty station, and James sure as heck is not an emergency contact since he isn’t local!
Realistically – how do you fill out that emergency contact list is up to you. Here are how some other military families do it.
- Use friends in the area. Thank goodness for military life in that we all move. Meaning that the friends you had two duty stations ago are showing up at the same place you are. Score! Someone you actually know, your kids actually know, and you already have their phone number. Sigh, a big sigh of relief because you have that list completed!
- Knock on doors. If you don’t know your neighbors because you are new to the area – introduce yourself. Their proximity to your home is useful, and getting to know them means your children will know their faces. Don’t just put their name and phone number down on the list without asking – make sure to ask and offer to be their children’s emergency contact as well.
- Use a sponsor. While a sponsor is more commonplace overseas than stateside, using the only person you know overseas can be used for the emergency contact. A sponsor is there to help with the transition, and being that they are military as well, they probably fully understand the need for an emergency contact for school paperwork.
- Contact from a summer group. If you could move in early summer, enroll your children in summer activities, or find a summer moms group. Perhaps you can find a friend or new acquaintance you feel comfortable adding as a new emergency contact within this forum. Consider homeschool groups, church groups, or MOPs groups in addition to any summer camps your children attended.
- Ask on social media. While this seems a little “new age,” the reality is that local social media groups are used for asking for the best local coffee, extracurricular for the kids, or babysitter suggestions – why not ask about an emergency contact? If asking outright seems strange, if someone appears to have similar interests ask for a meet-up with the kids and feel them out – or ask outright if being bold is your move.
- Your real estate agent. If you used an awesome real estate agent to find your new home, perhaps they will be kind enough to be the emergency contact.
Remember, you can change your emergency contacts. You might put one person down and make friends with a few other people later. It is okay to change the emergency contact. In addition, it is normal for emergency contacts within the military community to move mid-school year, so updating them on school forms is commonplace! Always ask before putting the person down as the emergency contact, so they aren’t surprised if they get a call from the school about your child. Also, make sure that your child is aware of who the emergency contact is if they have to pick them up from school on the off-chance.
Moving is not easy, and moving for children can be difficult to process. Don’t forget about the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which all 50 states have adopted to help military children transition from school to school. The compact provides protection and details on the transition processes if there are other questions about schooling – from special needs assessment to extracurricular activities. In addition, reach out to the School Liaison at your new duty station. Finding schools, determining the best placement, and enrolling in schools is not always simple or easy – the school liaison should have the best local resources.