Resources for Supporting
Understanding the unique challenges and stresses faced by military families is important for professionals working with this population. Help military children thrive—no matter where in the world their family goes next.
As of 2020, the Department of Defense reported there are 1.6 million children of active duty and reserve military in the United States. Military families experience many challenges and unique experiences throughout a servicemember’s career, particularly in times of deployment and transition. On average, military families move every two to three years, resulting in disruption to children’s schooling and family support networks.
Military children experience the same forms of maltreatment as children in the general population, and since 2003, rates of child maltreatment and family violence in military families have outpaced the rates reported for non-military families. This increase coincides with the post-9/11 rise in overseas military operations and deployments and the return of service members with physical and behavioral health issues (National Child Traumatic Stress Network).
While the risk of child maltreatment in military populations has increased, so has the number of system-wide resources and services available for prevention, the involvement of community providers, and the application of evidence-based treatments for the whole family system. Discover organizations and agencies with dedicated resources designed to support military families.
American Red Cross
Connect military families to resources through the American Red Cross’ Services for Military Members, Veterans, and Military Families portal. Service topics include:
- Emergency Connection
- Financial Assistance
- Information & Referrals
- Military and Veteran Caregiver Network
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
The Center advances psychological health and resilience through trauma research, education, and consultation focused on war, trauma, and disaster and its effects on servicemembers, units, families, and the nation’s communities. Browse their collection of more than 40 Military Fact Sheets, which includes guides targeted to both military families and providers. A sample of topics include:
- Helping Children Cope During Deployment
- Strengthening Military Families to Support Children’s Well-Being
- Understanding Post Deployment Stress Symptoms: Helping Your Loved Ones
- What Military Families Should Know About Depression
CSTS has translated a variety of mental health education fact sheets to other languages to enhance its support for the many diverse communities that are affected by disaster events. These translated fact sheets are designed to provide just-in-time information to help families, healthcare personnel, military and community leaders, and businesses plan for and respond to disasters. View translated fact sheets here.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Child Welfare Information Gateway has a dedicated section on its site for Working With Military Families. This section provides resources for those working with military families and features topics such as child abuse and neglect, prevention, deployment, domestic violence, and mental health stressors, as well as information on an array of services that are designed to support military families:
- Child Abuse, Neglect, and Prevention in Military Families
- Deployment Resources for Families
- Domestic Violence in Military Families
- Supporting Behavioral Health in Military Families
Elizabeth Dole Foundation
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation empowers, supports, and honors our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers; the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans. The Foundation’s programs provide military and veteran caregivers the support they need at the local, state, and national levels. Explore resources from the Foundation, including:
- Hidden Heroes
- Hidden Helpers at the Frontlines of Caregiving: Supporting the Healthy Development of Children from Military and Veteran Caregiving Home
Military OneSource is a 24/7 connection to information, answers, and support to help military personnel and their families overcome challenges and thrive. Their Parenting & Children section is a wealth of free parenting resources, benefits, and programs designed to help parents navigate:
- Parenting Infants and Toddlers
- Parenting Youth and Teens
- Parenting Through Deployment
Military OneSource also offers services and programs related to relationship counseling, non-medical counseling for stress relief, financial counseling, and much more. View their complete collection of MilLife topics.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
NCTSN has developed an extensive collection of resources designed to help providers and military and veteran families address the unique challenges associated with military life and culture. A sample of resources from their Military and Veteran Families Resource Library include:
- Overview on Military and Veteran Families and Children
- Military Children and Families: Supporting Health and Managing Risks
- Strong Families Strong Forces: A Program to Support Military Families with Young Children
- Child Maltreatment and Domestic Violence in Military and Veteran Families
- Working Effectively with Military Families: 10 Key Concepts All Providers Should Know
- Evidence-Based Treatments: Elements or Adaptations for Military Family-Informed Care
- Understanding Child Trauma and Resilience: For Military Parents and Caregivers
- Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Military Parents and Caregivers
Another great resource from NCTSN is their Child Maltreatment in Military Families: A Fact Sheet for Providers. Many of the evidence-based intervention strategies featured in this Fact Sheet have been reviewed (and some Scientifically Rated) by our partner project, California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare. You can access more information about these interventions through their Program Registry.
Sesame Street for Military Families
Military kids may experience BIG feelings—and that’s OK! Sesame Street for Military Families provides resources, tools, and games to help military families talk, listen, and connect. Some topics include:
- Civilian Life
- Family and Community Bonds
- Family Health
- Military Homecomings
Visit the Sesame Street for Military Families website to explore these topics and more. The website and all resources are also available in Spanish at Sesame Street para Familias Militares. Beyond parent resources, there is also a dedicated Providers section, which features instructions on how to engage families in specific military life events.
United Through Reading
United Through Reading provides Military servicemembers with the opportunity to record and save storytime moments for their families to enjoy, no matter the distance. Each recording comes with a free copy of the book for the family to read along with the servicemember’s storytime recording. These recordings have many developmental benefits for military children as well as servicemembers, who are also able to maintain close emotional bonds with their families at home, reducing feelings of separation or loneliness and helping them reintegrate to home life when they return. This free program is available to all branches of the military, regardless of duty status, including Veterans. Learn more.
Mental Health America: Parenting & the Military
U.S. News & World Report: Reducing Mental Health Risk for Kids in Military Families
Month of the Military Child
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is America’s largest government agency. Their mission is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation’s security. The DoD dedicates resources, services, policies, and programs to support the more than two million uniformed service members and 2.6 million family members across the globe. Use their Military Family Support portal to find referrals for Parents, Spouses, Children, Moving/Deployments, Finances, Online Learning, Health & Wellness, and more.
Sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy, Month of the Military Child is celebrated every April as way to acknowledge military families and their children for the daily sacrifices and the challenges they overcome. For child- and family-serving professionals working with military families, learn about different activities and additional supports available during Month of the Military Child.
Extend Your Learning with CalTrin!
CalTrin’s innovative learning model enables child- and family-serving professionals to choose training and educational experiences that work for your schedule, learning style, and career path—all at no cost to learners. It also provides opportunities to extend learning beyond an individual training event by supporting participants with related resources and practical applications. For professionals working with military families, we invite you to view our Calendar for upcoming webinars and workshops!
*Last updated September 26, 2023