Needs of Military Families: Family and Educator Perspectives
Classen, Audra I.
University of Kansas
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This qualitative research study explores the problems military families, educators, and school districts have in building positive and effective partnerships. It is anticipated that a better understanding of the unique challenges encountered by military families and their children with developmental delays or exceptionalities will lead to more effective interventions. By understanding military families' needs and improving communication, more satisfying partnerships can be established, which in turn is anticipated to positively impact the well-being of the children with exceptionalities of military families. Little research exists to guide educators in finding effective strategies for supporting military families and their children with exceptionalities, particularly for young children (birth to eight years of age). Investigating programs and interventions which are effective for this age group is of particular importance, given that slightly more than 500,000 children of military families are under five years of age. Gaining a greater understanding of how to support these families is timely. We know from our work with families of young children with special needs that families are more satisfied and achieve a greater sense of empowerment when they are included as meaningful partners and respected for their knowledge. This family-centered approach, builds a "partnership of equals," collaborating to address challenges and build resources with families. For the military family, each new challenge taps new strengths and generates unique ideas for overcoming obstacles. This study suggests partnerships between the school leadership and military command could assist families with the challenges of relocation and deployment when they also have children with exceptionalities. Thus, implementing a family-centered approach in our work with military families should support the family as they work to enhance their family and child outcomes, build resilience, and achieve their long term goals with a sense of fulfillment.
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