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U.S. Department of State

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Choosing a Safehaven: Considerations for Parents of School Age Children


When choosing a safehaven there are many factors to consider:

  • proximity of support from family and friends;
  • cost of available housing;
  • transportation availability;
  • recreation availability;
  • weather; and  
  • the ability to be in touch with information from Washington or the post.

Be sure to hand carry these documents!  Some of the frequent requirements for registering a child in school in the United States are:

  • Records from a previous school.
  • Record of inoculations.
  • Recent TB test for people coming from overseas.
  • Physical exam within the last 12 months. (The Foreign Service medical exam is sometimes accepted. Virginia forms are available from FLO.)
  • Birth certificate.
  • Proof of residence. (Your temporary residence at a hotel should be sufficient.)

Parents of school age children additionally need to consider the availability of schools that would be appropriate for their children.

  • Does it matter? If your child would only miss a short amount of school, would you even consider registering him or her in another school? For a younger child you may just prefer to do homeschooling to keep up with schoolwork, or fun activities to continue interests in math and reading. If the school is closed at your post, a contingency plan should exist that will give direction regarding make-up work and a projected schedule for the reopening.
  • What if my child needs to complete coursework or the evacuation is extended for several weeks or months? You will have to decide at what point you would prefer to have your child enrolled in a regular school program. There are no additional educational allowances made available for schooling at a safehaven in the U.S. or abroad. It is assumed that while you are in the States your child will attend the public school where you are staying. If your child is already receiving an away from post allowance for boarding school, you will continue to receive the allowance until the end of the current school year.
  • Where should I stay in order to make sure my children can attend school should the need arise? When choosing your safehaven check into the availability of schools that would accept your child. If your child is involved in programs which are not offered everywhere (International Baccalaureate (IB), or AP classes, advanced levels of math, science or languages, or is receiving special services) be sure the program your child requires is available and would be able to accept your child. In the Washington, DC, area the school districts are generally understanding of such evacuation needs. Outside of the DC metropolitan area check directly with the local school district. The Family Liaison Office and the Office of Overseas Schools are available to provide assistance if you have difficulty enrolling a child on a temporary basis. Knowing the school system is available to meet your children's needs is a wise investment of your time when choosing a safehaven.
  • How do I register my child at a school? Check Education Options for Foreign Service Children (K-12) for contact information on schools in the Washington DC area. Each school jurisdiction's website will include information on how to enroll your child.
  • Is there any assistance to register my child? If you have any difficulties registering a child in a school you may contact the Family Liaison Office or the Office of Overseas Schools (202-261-8200). Suggested letters can be sent from the FLO which might ease the registration at a school in the United States.
  • What if my child is enrolled in an International Baccalaureate Program? Many schools in the Washington Metropolitan area offer IB programs. Check the compatibility with the program at the school your children are attending. If you have already signed up for IB exams, the exams are the same worldwide and should be transferable to another location. Parents should carefully consider temporary housing near an appropriate high school if requiring continuation of an IB program. For more information see Choices for High School: IB and AP.

Fairfax County requires approval from the Central Registration office for admissions that would require a waiver of the permanent residence requirement. The office is located at: 2831 Graham Road, Falls Church, VA, tel: 703-876-5230. They are usually willing to make accommodations for Foreign Service children in evacuation situations.

Arlington County does not require a central registration. Parents may go directly to the school in the area of residence.

Montgomery County requires central registration before going to the school in the area of residence.  Returning Foreign Service students must proceed to the International Student Admissions Office, Rocking Horse Road Center, 4910 Macon Road, Rockville, MD, 20852, tel. 301 230 0686, FAX 301 230 0685.

Alexandria Public Schools

Falls Church City Public Schools

For more information or with specific questions contact:

Education and Youth Officer
Family Liaison Office
Tel: 202-647-1076 / 1-800-440-0397 / Fax: 202-647-1670
Email: FLOAskEducation@state.gov

Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
Contact the Family Liaison Office


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