Although the overall rate of child maltreatment is lower among military families compared to civilian families, rates of child maltreatment have risen faster among military families, particularly in the last decade.
Recognizing the need to support the most vulnerable military and veteran families in the state, Texas through the Department of Family and Protective Services - Prevention and Early Intervention Division (PEI) launched its pilot Military Families and Veterans Prevention Program (MVP) in 2016. The Child and Family Research Partnership is evaluating the effectiveness of the MVP program and determining how communities can best meet the unique needs of military and veteran families.
CFRP met with program providers during the study and garnered insights on the challenges of providing services to this special population:
- Providers were surprised by the breadth and depth of need for prevention services that could reduce the risk of child maltreatment in military and veteran families. Needs varied from housing to transportation to basic needs and more.
- Military families tend to be more private and independent than civilian families. Many families do not seek help until they are in crisis. Reasons include perceived stigma attached to receiving services and misconceptions about the military held by the non-military community.
- Frequent relocations among military families make it difficult for families to connect to resources, due to both unique schedules and increased isolation.
- Critical to program success is building trust using military-affiliated staff (either staff who have a personal history being in the military or having family who was/is in the military), as well as having persistent and very targeted recruitment efforts.
For more on what CFRP learned from the program providers, see policy brief, Improving Family Services for Military and Veteran Families.