Welcome to our unaccompanied tours (UT) blog, Foggy Bottom Rambles! We can share information, programs, and resources quickly with you and since blogs are a two way street, we (and the other readers) can hear from you. What's in a name you say? This blog reflects how we (back here in DC, Foggy Bottom area) provide information (rambles) to you. Find tips from the field, websites and information, home is where the hooch is suggestions, upcoming programs and events and follow our book club. Let us know what you think: contribute to the blog or email us at FLOaskUT@state.gov.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps

FSFRC: Continuation of Second Wave of Applications

The Department of State recently released information on the continuation of the second wave of applications for the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps. Before submitting your application, please read the recent guidance to find out if you are eligible at this time. Visit the FSFRC webpage to learn more about the program. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mark Your Calendar! EPAP Vacancy Announcement Coming Soon

A vacancy announcement for the Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP) will be available on USAJOBS.gov in mid-February (dates to be confirmed). The vacancy will be open for two weeks. During this time, EFMs will be able to apply for positions at their sponsoring employee’s post of assignment.

The complete list of application documents and the list of available positions will be posted on the EPAP webpage soon. Both previously qualified applicants and new applicants will need to submit an application package. All applicants must meet the eligibility and qualification standards requirements. Send questions to FLOAskEPAP@state.gov.

What can you do now?
Start preparing your application package on USAJOBs.gov. Be sure to include:

A copy of your sponsoring employee’s assignment cable/notification or approved OF-126 Foreign Service residence and dependent report listing you by name (secure as soon as possible).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New employment opportunity - join the FLO Team!

Program Assistant (GS-07) - Application deadline is January 13:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry and Diplomutt Ben
Holiday Event Salutes Unaccompanied Tour Families
In December, Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, hosted the eighth annual Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays event in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at Main State, honoring the dedication and sacrifice of U.S. government employees and families who endure long periods of separation due to assignments at hardship posts. 
Like the first such event, hosted by Secretary Clinton in 2009, the celebration was geared towards children, offering activities, performances and gifts. They decorated a keepsake box to fill with special mementos to share with their parents and a jar filled with Hershey Kisses. After  posing with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in the digital photo booth, they could then email the photos instantly to their special person serving at an unaccompanied post.  
Entertainment was provided by the Carol Ringers Bell Choir and a military jazz quartet. Later, Secretary Kerry told attendees that “representing America abroad is what the State Department is all about. And it’s more than just a job; it’s a calling. And everybody here is a member of a family. We’re all part of the same family.” 
He then introduced the “wicked awesome” cast of the Broadway hit”Wicked,” which performed the popular songs “The Wizard and I,” “For Good” and “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”
At the close, Secretary Kerry mingled and posed for photos, and the children went home with large world globes and gift bags full of items donated by event sponsors.    

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Spring 2017 Distance Language Courses at FSI

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) announces the Spring 2017 semester of online distance language learning courses starting January 17, 2017. FSI’s School of Language Studies offers 67 courses in 17 different languages at a variety of levels. Enroll now as some courses fill up quickly.

Enrollment is free to direct-hire Department of State employees and their family members on a space available basis. Other agency personnel and their family members may enroll through their DC office on a reimbursable basis with a fully funded SF-182 sent to TurnerVB3@state.gov. Employees can enroll via their Career Development Officer (CDO) or on the FSI Registrar’s Course Catalog on OpenNet. Family members can enroll via their sponsor’s CDO. Email OnlineLanguage@state.gov for more information. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

FLO Website Feature: Boarding Schools

Are you thinking about sending your child to boarding school next year? FLO’s Education and Youth Team can help you navigate the boarding school process in the Foreign Service. You can start your search for the “right” school on FLO’s Boarding School Options webpage. Email the Education and Youth Team at FLOAskEducation@state.gov.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Attention FSFRC Members!

The Office of Overseas Employment at the Department of State recently released an urgent message for all members of the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC). FSFRC members who have accepted or who may be considering accepting employment on a Personal Services Agreement (PSA) or a Civil Service position should read the message carefully on the FSFRC webpage.

Key Points

A temporary personnel software and payroll system incompatibility issue prevents FSFRC members in non-pay Reserve Status from being paid correctly for work performed on a PSA or in Civil Service position. A new payroll system, which is being implemented in 2017, will resolve this issue.

FSFRC members who accept employment on a PSA or a Civil Service position must first resign from the FSFRC before starting work.

These individuals may then reapply to join the FSFRC during open enrollment.

FSFRC Members who are currently working on a PSA should immediately contact PayIntakeExecutiveCo@state.gov.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

If you are preparing to transition to Washington, DC and are starting your job search, you may want to sign up for the following FLO programs. 

The Network

Email subscription service for registered family members.

Receive emails with Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) and Washington area job vacancy announcements and other employment-related information including upcoming programs, workshops, job fairs and FLO services.

How does it work?

Email FLONetwork@state.gov with your personal email address, employee sponsor’s name and agency.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2017 FSYF / GEICO - Academic Merit Award

The Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) is committed to supporting Foreign Service youth by providing them with opportunities to challenge themselves, reflect upon their Foreign Service childhoods, and to be celebrated for their achievements. Since 2010, FSYF has been recognizing Foreign Service high school seniors and gap-year dependents for their outstanding achievements through the FSYF / GEICO College Scholarship. This year, FSYF is offering a one-time only competitive merit-based award with a first-place prize of $4,000 and a second-place prize of $2,000. High school seniors and gap-year dependents whose families are members of the Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) are eligible to apply. For more information on the award, how to apply, and how to join FSYF, go to www.fsyf.org. Deadline to apply is February 6, 2017.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

FLO Website Feature: Eldercare

You can find information and resources on eldercare issues for Foreign Service employees and family members caring for elderly parents on FLO’s Eldercare webpage. This page includes specific information about long-distance caregiving, communicating with an elderly parent, paying for long-term care, housing options, putting parents on your orders, and more. Email FLOAskSupportServices@state.gov with questions. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Employment Opportunity in FLO: UT Specialist

Family members returning to or in the Washington, DC area may be interested in applying for the Unaccompanied Tour Support Specialist (GS-9) position in FLO. The incumbent of this position is responsible for providing information and support to employees and family members separated by service before, during and after these experiences, including providing assistance for reunion and reentry into life in the U.S. Duties will include working in person in front of groups as well as with individuals and via virtual platforms and printed media. The position is located in Washington, DC, and requires some travel. The application deadline for this position is 11:59 p.m. EST, November 16. See the vacancy announcement for details.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Managing the Stress of Change  
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
10:00—11:00 A.M. ET

Stress comes to all of us in one form or another. However , one of the greatest sources of stress is change! Change of location, change of routine, change of lifestyle, changes in   relationships due to separation, and the list goes on.

We hope you will join us to discuss effective management in dealing with change and the stress that comes along with it at our next webinar.

Participants will need a computer with a high-speed internet connection and computer speakers. The chat function will allow participants to post questions or comments during the presentation. 

To participate in the webinar visit:
Department of State Webinar.  enter as a guest and type your first name and your current or future post. 

Our partners from the Bureau of Medical Services Deployment Stress Management Program (DSMP) will facilitate the webinar and be available for a question and answer session.

Please request a copy of the digital participant workbook in advance of the webinar. We will refer to it throughout the session. Email FLOAskUT@state.gov to request a copy.

Please direct questions to FLO's Unaccompanied Tours office at 202-647-1076.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Employment Opportunity in FLO:  Employment specialist

Family members returning to Washington, DC may be interested in applying for the Employment specialist (GS-12) position in FLO.  The incumbent of this position is responsible for supporting a wide variety of family member employment programs and initiatives related to inside- and outside-the-mission employment overseas, professional development opportunities, and employment opportunities when returning to Washington.  The position is located in Washington, D.C., and may require some travel.  The application deadline for this position is 11:59 p.m.  EDT, October 28, 2016.  Visit FLO’s website for details and application instructions.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Try WorkLife4You Emergency Backup Care

When your child care plans fall through, try the Emergency Backup Care program. WorkLife4You (formally Information Quest) provides this service to help you secure—and pay for—reliable backup care.

Posted Overseas? You can use any of the backup care options for a family member in the U.S. For family members who are with you overseas, Emergency Backup Care will reimburse you for the cost of care (up to $100) if you use friends, family members, or a child care center.

WorkLife4You is the Department of State's free, comprehensive resource and referral program. For questions and log-in information, call (866) 552-4748 or email Specialist@LifeCare.com.
Please note, this service is for Department of State employees; others should contact their agency to inquire about the availability of similar programs.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

FSYF Annual College Workshop for Parents and Teens (Grades 9 - 12)

Date:                     Saturday, October 15, 2016
Time:                     10 am - 2 pm
Location:             Oakwood Falls Church: State Room
Address:              501 Roosevelt Blvd, Falls Church 22044     
Fee:                        (fee includes lunch; pricing is per- person)
                                FSYF Members:  $15 per person
                                Non-Members:  $30 per person 

Rebecca Grappo, International Educational Consultant, Veteran of Foreign Service Life and founder of RNG International. 

Find out more about Becky at www.rnginternational.com 


The annual workshop is for parents and teens in grades 9 - 12. This workshop addresses the essay writing process, issues that arise from experiencing an international childhood, and how students can incorporate their overseas experiences as they prepare for the college search & application process.  This is a rare opportunity to speak with Becky Grappo and have your questions answered in person!

Topics to include:

How to incorporate Foreign Service experiences into an effective essay 
        What are admissions officers looking for 
How important is the essay?  
Can a student use an essay for multiple applications? 
Interrupted curriculum & extra-curriculars 
Teacher recommendations 
Essay topics 
IB vs AP
Planning college visits from overseas 
When to apply early decision
State residency 
Planning a gap year, and more....
Come with Questions and Leave with Answers!


Event is very popular and will fill quickly – Register Now!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

FLO is on Facebook!

We look forward to sharing and connecting with our Foreign Service community on Facebook. Like our pageand turn on notifications to stay up to date with FLO news in the areas of family member employment, education and youth, crisis management, foreign service life, unaccompanied tour     support, and more.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

The GEI Program Expands

Over the course of the last 12 months, FLO’s Global Employment Initiative (GEI) has expanded to 20 GEAs worldwide. There are new Regional Global Employment Advisors (GEAs) in the EAP, WHA, EUR, and AF regions. GEI has also extended regional GEA services to the United Kingdom, Israel, and Mexico and now supports all Eligible Family Members (EFMs) and Members of Household (MOHs) under Chief of Mission Authority at 228 posts in 167 countries. GEAs support family members in their job search by providing resources, guidance, and facilitating skills development. GEI creates a worldwide network of job search and career transition professionals who understand the challenges EFMS and MOHs face when working overseas and when returning to the United States. For more information, visit the GEI webpage or to contact the GEA covering a specific post, email GEI@state.gov.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

FLO Awards 2016-2017 Professional Development Fellowships

Every spring since 2004, FLO has enabled EFMs and MOHs to apply for fellowships through its Professional Development Fellowship (PDF). Fellowships of $1,000 to $2,500 are awarded each year. The purpose of the program is to assist EFMs and MOHs in maintaining, enhancing, and/or developing their professional skills while overseas.

The 2016-2017 season was particularly competitive--FLO received over 220 applications. Applications were reviewed by a selection committee and FLO is pleased to award 108 fellowships, surpassing previous years. Projects approved this season include renewing/maintaining state licensures and national board certification in accounting, medical, and legal occupations and attending local and/or online universities to maintain or complete a degree. Areas of study are varied and include global health policy, information technology, management, strategic communication, and foreign language.

Since its inception, the PDF program has supported more than 1,200 family members for a total of approximately $2,000,000 in fellowships. For more information on the program, visit FLO’s PDF webpage and look for announcements about the next open season in spring 2017.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

For young people, going to college involves making some of their first major life decisions. Here are some tips for Foreign Service high schoolers on how to get it right.                          
The college application process is like the ultimate dating game. Every year a new batch of students puts themselves through the possibility of crushing rejection with hopes of finding acceptance with “the one.”

It’s an emotional and opaque process in which the student must also learn to live with the fact that the rules of the game are constantly changing. This year alone has seen the introduction of the new SAT, a rising interest in doing away with standardized
test scores and even the creation of a new application process—the coalition application.

With the stakes so high, the Family Liaison Office interviewed two college counseling experts—Judy Bracken and Rebecca Grappo—in search of best practices for applying to college and a heads-up on the biggest mistakes Foreign Service kids make.

Judy Bracken has 17 years of experience in Falls Church and Fairfax County, Virginia, public schools as a college and career counselor, and currently works as a counselor for private clients. Rebecca Grappo is the founder of RNG International Consultants and specializes in helping parents make the right educational choices for their Third Culture Kids. She has also worked as a teacher internationally and domestically.

Both Grappo and Bracken are parents of Foreign Service kids, so they have been through the process themselves and understand the unique challenges FS kids face while attempting to untangle the college application process. Our discussion is the basis for the pointers to Foreign Service students heading into the college application process offered here. 
To read the full article by Claire Wedderien follows this link: