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2011 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 16, No. 2
April 2011

Working with Military Families

Reprinted from USDHHS, 2010b

Child welfare professionals should be aware of the unique experiences and situations of military families that may affect the prevention of and response to child maltreatment. In addition to stress factors experienced by many civilian families (e.g., finances, careers), military families may be affected by the deployment of members to combat duty, as well as their reintegration. Deployment is associated with increased stress in nondeployed parents and stress and behavioral problems in children—all of which increase the risk of child maltreatment. Recent studies have shown that levels of child maltreatment among military families increase during deployments and that nonmilitary caretakers were most often the perpetrator.

The military provides prevention, treatment, and outreach services specifically for military families at risk for child maltreatment. In 1984, the Department of Defense (DOD) established the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) to address child maltreatment and domestic violence in military families. Each military branch has its own FAP, and local FAPs are located on military bases. FAPs work closely with military command, military law enforcement, medical staff, family center personnel, chaplains, and civilian organizations (such as CPS) to assist children and families. FAPs may provide a variety of services, including stress management, parent education, conflict resolution, safety education, and victim advocacy and support.

Military families can report suspected child maltreatment to the DOD Child Abuse Safety and Violation Hotline (800/336-4592), to their local FAP (visit MilitaryHOMEFRONT at to find local FAP contact information), or to CPS. If FAP is contacted first, it will alert the local CPS agency and work with it to investigate the alleged maltreatment.

For additional information about military support for children and families, visit