Thursday, January 12, 2012: 5:00 PM
Wilson (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Background and Purpose: Deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have been affecting military families for nearly a decade. As of June 2009, almost 900,000 combat-deployed military personnel were parents. As of July, 2010, over 71,000 U.S. service members had been wounded during the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan and almost 7,000 had been killed. In addition to physical injuries, service members have sustained less visible injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and/or traumatic brain injury. According to a 2009 DoD report, 42% of the children of active duty members are between the ages of 0 to 5. Babies and toddlers may be particularly vulnerable to the contextual family stressors associated with deployment, which can impact their parents' and caregivers' emotional health and responsiveness. Young children rely heavily on positive interactions with their caregivers to promote optimal social-emotional development. Parental stress or trauma can compromise these early interactions and potentially influence an infant or toddler's developmental trajectory. Methods: The Military Family Projects (MFP) at ZERO TO THREE has responded to the unmet needs of infant and toddlers in military families experiencing deployment-related challenges by training professionals who work with infants and toddlers of active duty servicemembers. Specifically, the Coming Together Around Military Families® (CTAMF) initiative provides trainings, consultation, and materials to interdisciplinary professionals across Service Branches and communities. Caregivers and professionals learn to support infants and toddlers affected by a parent's deployment, injury, or death in order to promote healthy, long-term developmental outcomes. Results: Findings suggest that the training helped participants consider ways of working collaboratively with other community professionals; to support young children in responding to a parent's deployment; to understand the layered effects of deployment; and to understand how a parent's deployment-related injury might impact the family of a young child. Furthermore, findings indicate that the training promoted professionals' interest in: working more closely with parents, assisting families in accessing resources, educating other professionals on challenges related to separation, trauma, and loss, and designing new strategies to support military families and their young children. Conclusions and Implications: A partnership between ZERO TO THREE and the U.S. Department of Defense has brought the CTAMF initiative to 65 military communities. Anecdotal and evaluative data suggest the importance of continuing to convene interdisciplinary professionals, as well as military and civilian community professionals, in an effort to respond collaboratively and holistically to the complex needs of infants and toddlers of military families in the face of separation, trauma, and loss. Data also highlight the importance of continuing to convene interdisciplinary professionals, as well as military and civilian community professionals, in an effort to respond collaboratively and holistically to the complex needs of infants and toddlers of military families in the face of separation, trauma, and loss.
Back to: Beyond the Base: Military/Civilian Coordinated Responses to the Challenges of Families Impacted by Military Service
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