Strong Military Families

A Group-Based Program for Military Families with Young Children

Parenting across the deployment cycle raises special challenges for military families with young children. The Strong Military Families (SMF) Program aims to improve the resilience and wellbeing of Michigan’s military and veteran families through the delivery of a positive parenting program. The SMF Program includes military service members, their spouses or partners, their young children from birth to 8 years old, and older siblings. The program is unique in that the whole family participates.

The SMF program incorporates a parent group curriculum and a corresponding child group curriculum, and is designed to address five core pillars: 1) increasing social support, 2) broadening positive parenting strategies, 3) enhancing parent-child connections, 4) learning stress reduction and self-care, and 5) connecting families to resources. The concurrent child group pairs children one-on-one with a trained volunteer who provides care and engages in fun activities.

Results from an NIH-funded evaluation of the SMF program indicates that parents who participated in the SMF groups feel more confident, report fewer child behavior problems, and experience a reduction in mental health symptoms.