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Building Community Capacity to Support Military Families Jay A. Mancini, Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 2004 USDA Children,

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Presentation on theme: "Building Community Capacity to Support Military Families Jay A. Mancini, Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 2004 USDA Children,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Building Community Capacity to Support Military Families Jay A. Mancini, Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 2004 USDA Children, Youth, and Families At Risk Conference Seattle, Washington 12 May 2004

2 Purpose of the Research Presentation Discussion of issues facing military families and communities Presentation of a community capacity model Implications for program development, implementation, and evaluation Building Community Capacity in Action John Ghees Operation Brave Kids ( Washington Post article by Thomas E. Ricks (March 28, 2004) on spouse responses to military family stresses Army Child and Youth Services and 4-H Collaboration: Operation Military Kids (Contact:

3 Military Members and Families Profile Active Duty –1.4 million members –47% less than 25 –58% married and/or have children –86,700 single parents –47,904 dual military couples –1.17 million children (< 18) –41% less than 5 y.o. –85% of Active Duty members based in USA Guard and Reserve –880,000 members* –30% less than 25 –59% married and/or have children –69,800 single parents –21,303 dual military couples –713,800 children (<18) –24% less then 5 y.o. –Live in 4,000 communities across USA *Plus 350K in Individual Ready Reserves (war mobilization pool)

4 The Changing Nature of Military Service U.S. forces take on a more diverse and increasing number of military missions –War, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian operations, and GWT –In March 2004, over 100,000 military members in Iraq Operations increasingly more dangerous Length of deployment longer and often open-ended –Average deployment for Reservists in Desert Shield/Storm (early 1990s) was 156 days, where for Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom it is 320 days More frequent deployments More back-to-back deployments Guard and Reserves mobilized in increasing numbers and in increasing number of military operations –Since 9/11, 320,000 Guard and Reserve members mobilized –In March 2004, 180,000 Guard and Reserve members on active duty

5 Critical Issues Concerning Military Families: Needed Competencies Plan and prepare for deployment Handle stress of separation, long deployments, and moves Take care of health and well- being Know of and access services when needed Possess effective family relationship skills Understand/navigate military culture and demands Cope with childrens reactions to deployments and relocations Manage family finances (including income changes) Carry out new family roles and responsibilities during deployments Adjust to return of deployed member Relocation planning and preparations Adjustment to new communities

6 Critical Issues Concerning Military Families: Needed Community Support* Information on military lifestyle (deployment, relocation, mission-orientation), support services, and unit/member welfare Access to support services Communication with military member during deployments Employment support for spouses Connections with unit and support groups Employer support for pre- deployment, deployment, and post-deployment of Guard and Reserve School support for children Affordable, quality child care * DoD provides an extensive, excellent array of support for families, however, greater involvement by civilian communities is necessary, especially in support of Guard and Reserve families.

7 Critical Issues Concerning Military Families: Community Capacity Community connections are the linchpins in supporting military families These connections are fostered by: –Aware, concerned, and resilient communities –Vibrant, flexible formal support systems –Active, resilient informal support systems Community capacity is built from: –Shared responsibility –Collective competence

8 A Theory of Change: Community Capacity Model Community agencies and organizations, community members, and networks: A focus on strengths and connections Community Capacity Formal Networks Informal Networks Community Results Demonstrate by actions: shared responsibility and collective competence

9 Community Capacity Model Assumptions Community contexts have important effects on families Communities are diverse and provide numerous assets to families Military families participate in many community contexts Consequently there are many community touch points that can support military families For community assets to be activated intention is required

10 Community Capacity Model Elements of the model: –Community capacity Extent to which community members demonstrate sense of shared responsibility for the general welfare of the community and its members Extent to which community members demonstrate collective competence in taking advantage of opportunities for addressing community needs and confronting situations that threaten the safety and well-being of community members Capacity is the actual or potential ability to perform, yield, withstand –Community results Aggregate, broad-based outcomes that reflect the collective efforts of individuals and families; these benefits are owned and achieved by individuals and families;examples are safety, health and well-being, family adaptation, and community satisfaction Family resilience is an important result: Ability to make good decisions, to support individual family members, to cope with stress, to overcome

11 Community Capacity Model Informal and formal networks –Informal networks include group associations, and less-organized personal and collective relationships that are maintained voluntarily by individuals and families, including relationships with work associates, neighbors, and friends. Mutual exchanges and reciprocal responsibility are the cornerstones of informal ties. –Formal networks are those associated with agencies and organizations; they address the support needs of individuals and families, and sponsor activities that provide citizens with opportunities for meaningful participation in the collective life of the community

12 Building & Sustaining a Network of Connections Military Sector: Volunteer & Nonprofit Organizations Support Groups Faith Communities Military Unit Leaders Installation Leaders FamilyResilience Civilian Sector: Civic & Nonprofit Organizations Support Groups Faith Communities Employers Local Government Military Community Agencies Public and Private Community Agencies Extended Family, Friends & Neighbors (Informal Networks)

13 Why Informal Networks are Important Connections are significant for health and well-being The informal support network is preferred by military members and families –The informal network makes a difference in adaptation and coping Informal networks provide these kinds of support: –Emotional-to deal with despair and worry –Instrumental-to accomplish practical tasks –Informational-to achieve better decisions –Companionate-to spend time in a context for support –Validation-to support feeling worthwhile, competent, hopeful Policies, programs, and practices need to be oriented toward encouraging interaction and transaction among families

14 Why Formal Networks are Important Formal systems provide support programs and services –Collaboration among formal system units significant for network effectiveness; silos avoided –Outreach becomes a primary activity, targeting vulnerable groups in particular –Strength of formal network is found in its diversity, and its comprehensiveness Formal systems intentional about supporting informal networks: –Development of ongoing networks established as a goal, in addition to providing services –Organizational success gauged by supporting informal networks that are self- sufficient Nexus of formal & informal support is the linchpin: –Power of interpersonal relationships –Expertise of formal organizations

15 Spotlight on the Nexus of Informal and Formal Systems of Social Care Effect Levels-These describe the operations of informal and formal networks –First-order: Occur within a homogeneous network, such as a Family Center, or among friends. Efforts to address an issue contained within the network. Bonding within a network. –Second-order: Occur among similar networks, such as a Family Center and a local community health center, or among contiguous neighborhoods. –Third-order: Occur between dissimilar networks, such as partnerships between community agencies and neighborhood groups. Bridging important networks. Intermingling of informal and formal networks.

16 Process Characteristics of a Competent Community Citizens work together in times of opportunity, adversity, and positive challenges –Mobilize the range of networks Identify community needs and assets –Including the assets that military families bring to communities Define common goals and objectives –Those which serve the larger community –Those which serve pivotal/unique aspects of the community Set priorities –What does the community have some say about? –What aspects of the community are value-added? Develop strategies for collective action and implement them –Targeted, meaningful, and supported Monitor the results of these community efforts –Determining what works and why

17 Implications for Civilian Community Formal Networks Be engaged with the community rather than apart from it Know the communities within the community, i.e. military families Value the importance of fostering connections Reject the status quo in favor of bold approaches Be committed to intentionally addressing military family issues Give priority to building and sustaining community capacity Embrace supporting informal networks as a formal network goal Allow desired results to provide guidance to activities Be outreach-oriented Work to develop partnerships with military entities Develop partnerships with community agencies around military family issues Define community members as partners and assets rather than clients and service beneficiaries

18 Building Informal Community Networks: Performance Indicators for Formal Networks Knowledge –Community members Are aware of their needs for community connections Understand benefits of those connections Understand their own role in building community connections Recognize specific actions they can take that will positively affect others in their community

19 Building Informal Community Networks: Performance Indicators for Formal Networks Attitudes –Community members Value the skills, backgrounds, and experiences of other community members Feel it is important to interact with other community members around everyday life issues and concerns Feel a sense of responsibility to reach and out and connect with other community members

20 Building Informal Community Networks: Performance Indicators for Formal Networks Behaviors –Community members Participate in community sponsored events Interact informally with neighbors and their families Participate in helping newcomers learn about military and civilian communities Are active in the social life of the community Cooperate with others to address community-threatening issues Provide support for other community members on a regular, non- crisis basis Exchange resources with other community members, including knowledge and information Help other community members get the support they need from formal agencies and organizations

21 Sustaining Community Capacity Building Efforts to Support Military Families Sustainability is the capacity of programs to continuously respond to community issues Providing continuing benefits to military families is the key element, regardless of the activities that convey those benefits Sustainability elements –Leadership competence –Effective collaboration –Understanding the community –Demonstrating program results –Strategic funding –Staff involvement and integration –Program responsivity

22 In Conclusion Programs, policies, and practices of formal network organizations are important for building informal networks Community and family resilience is influenced by strong informal networks that occur among friends, family members, work associates, and neighbors A strong network of informal and formal community connections is fundamental for promoting and sustaining military family resilience

23 Community Capacity Literature Bowen, G.L., Mancini, J.A., Martin, J.A., Ware, W.B., & Nelson, J.P. (2003). Promoting the adaptation of military families: An empirical test of a community practice model. Family Relations, 52, 33-44. Bowen, G.L., Martin, J.A., Mancini, J.A., & Nelson, J.P. (2001). Civic engagement and sense of community in the military. Journal of Community Practice, 9, 71-93. Bowen, G.L., Martin, J.A., Mancini, J.A., Nelson, J.P. (2000). Community capacity: Antecedents and consequences. Journal of Community Practice, 8, 2-21. Mancini, J.A., Nelson, J.P., Bowen, G.L., & Martin, J.A. (in press). Preventing intimate partner violence: A community capacity approach. Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma. Mancini, J.A., & Marek, L.I. (2004). Sustaining community-based programs for families: Conceptualization and measurement. Family Relations, 53, 339-347. Mancini, J.A., Martin, J.A., & Bowen, G.L. (2003). Community capacity. In T. Gullotta & M. Bloom (Eds.), Encyclopedia of primary prevention and health promotion. NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum. Martin, J.A., Mancini, D.L., Bowen, G.L., Mancini, J.A., & Orthner, D.K. (2004). Building strong communities for military families. National Council on Family Relations Policy Brief, April. Martin, J.A., Mancini, J.A., & Bowen, G.L. (2002). The changing nature of our Armed Forces and military service life: Challenges and opportunities for family research. National Council on Family Relations Report, 47 (1), F3,F5.

24 Internet Resources: Military Families Children, Youth, and Families Education and Research Network (Resources for parents, teachers, and family support professionals in times of war) - Defense Link: A primary site for DOD information - Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy - Military Children and Youth Issues Military Child Education Coalition - http://www.militarychild.org Military Family Resource Center - http://www.mfrc-dodqol.org National Military Family Association – http://www.nmfa.org Reserve Affairs –

25 Building Community Capacity to Support Military Families For additional information related to this presentation please contact: Jay A. Mancini, Ph.D., Department of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, 24061 (

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