Family Life

Family life abroad can be very exciting, filled with enriching cultural experiences. As a U.S. diplomat, your spouse/partner, children, and in some cases, dependent parent(s) may travel with you to your post, except to those locations designated “unaccompanied” or in cases where there is imminent danger or civil unrest.

As a member of the Foreign Service, you and your family can expect government-paid housing, and at many posts, there are American-curriculum and/or international schools that your children may attend. While the Foreign Service does not guarantee your spouse or partner employment, there are programs and services to assist in identifying employment options.

The U.S. Department of State makes every effort to support family life abroad. In fact, we have a dedicated team in the Family Liaison Office (FLO) to help you manage the transition to the overseas lifestyle. FLO serves all U.S. Government direct-hire employees and their family members (from all foreign affairs agencies under Chief of Mission authority) serving at home and abroad. FLO’s mission is to improve their quality of life through advocacy, programs and services.

FLO extends its services to overseas communities through the worldwide Community Liaison Office (CLO) program at more than 200 overseas missions. The CLO program is the backbone of community support for employees and their family members at embassies and consulates and is often the first point of contact for newly assigned or arriving employees and family members, providing pre-arrival information, orientation, and assistance with settling in at post.

Established in 1978, FLO works to effect policy changes and create programs and services for the benefit of the Foreign Service family. FLO provides guidance and strives to expand opportunities for family member employment, offers information and support family education choices, assists with reentry to the United States after a tour abroad, provides guidance and referrals to those experiencing personal challenges such an unexpected departure from post or divorce, and offers support and resources to employees and families impacted by an unaccompanied tour.

FLO provides a variety of client services in the following areas:

For more information on the Foreign Service lifestyle or on any of the issues listed above, visit the Family Liaison Office website or contact FLO at 202-647-1076. You can also visit the Department of State’s Family Life forum to ask questions and get more information.

Please note: Employees with a family member who has been issued a limited medical clearance (not worldwide) may be assigned to posts where that family member cannot accompany them. We strongly advise candidates to consider this situation as they pursue employment with the Department of State.