Back view of schoolchildren with backpacks walking in corridor of school

Back view of schoolchildren with backpacks walking in corridor of school ()

Going through a  Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is stressful, period. However, our most recent move was the first we’d done with a child in school and that was a new level of stress for me.

Would the area in our new location be safe?

How did the school perform academically?

Would my child be happy in his new school?

It’s natural that parents wonder about these important questions when faced with a PCS, especially when moving overseas. Thankfully, the military offers resources for easing the transition for school-age kids and families. Here are three of the best ones I found:

School Liaison Officer

The number one concern I had when we received orders was the quality of the schools. I wanted to know that my son would be safe and secure, while also receiving an excellent education.

School Liaison Officers (SLO) are there to ease this concern for families moving to installations across the globe. They can help answer any questions about the school system, discuss options that might be a better fit for your family, and also help with any special needs. I never realized how much needed to be done to get my oldest son set up for school at our new duty station back in the states. Not only did we need to research and choose the school, hoping for the right fit, but we also had to communicate with the old school to transfer records as well. That may sound simple enough, but when the old school forgot to send one or two documents, it quickly became a game of ping-pong.

The SLO that I spoke with was kind and patient with me. He was understanding of my concerns and explained what to expect when communicating between schools. He was very knowledgeable about each of the schools in our district and what the military families in the area typically choose. I was able to reach out to him by phone or email with any questions, and ultimately I felt much more comfortable with our school choice.

Military & Family Life Counselor

Military & Family Life Counselors (MFLC) provide services on a variety of topics for the whole family. Within schools, these counselors can work with military-related children in transitioning in and out of a school, while also supporting kids in times of deployment or other life events.

When we were preparing for our move, the MFLC at my son’s school gave him a folder filled with informational pamphlets on programs and resources that may be available in our new area, as well as the contact information for the SLO. She also gave my son a cool tote bag and a teddy bear that quickly became his “moving buddy.” As a parent, I was thankful that someone in the school was helping my son understand what was happening and how to look forward to beginning a new adventure.

MFLC programs are also available outside of a school setting. Visit your installation’s Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), Army Community Services (ACS) or Airman and Family Readiness Center (AFRC) to get in touch with a counselor.

Youth Sponsorship Program

Geared towards tweens and teens, this is another one of the amazing resources I discovered preparing for our move. My kids are younger, so we haven’t  utilized this resource yet, but I sure am happy to know about it for the future.

Through the Youth Sponsorship Program, kids have a chance to connect with a sponsor as they become acclimated to their new home. The sponsor can assist with pointing kids in the right direction for activities and other youth programs, learn about the local community and more. It’s a great opportunity to meet somebody right off the bat who is knowledgeable about all the best programs and events in your area. To find youth programs at your installation, click here.

Once you receive orders, you can begin reaching out to these resources knowing that your child is supported during every step of this big change. Don’t delay!

Stephanie Allen is a proud Navy wife and mom, a writer, blogger, success coach, and the Communications and Marketing Director for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network. Find her on LinkedIn and Instagram!

Additional Links:


Youth Programs/Centers

Military and Family Support Centers

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Tamala Malerk is a writer and editor with Stars and Stripes Europe. She has been with SSE since April 2022 writing articles all about travel, lifestyle, community news, military life and more. In May 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in History and promises it is much more relevant to this job than one might think.

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