An airmen kissing his daughter's head while standing in uniform.

APRIL:
Military Children’s Health Toolkit

In today’s military, the number of active-duty-member children is almost equal to the number of active duty adults, according to data from Military OneSource. Military children make up a large portion of the military community, and the Air Force is dedicated to caring for all of its members — from newborns to veterans.

Our military children play an important role in our communities. In order to keep them healthy and vibrant, we want to make sure they and their parents are aware, and have access to, the resources kids need to be resilient members of our military family.

Parents play the most important role in guiding and supporting military children through all stages of life. Knowledge of parenting and of child development is an important tool for every parent. Knowing children’s capabilities and setting realistic expectations for their behavior can minimize the stress of day-to-day parenting and is protective against child abuse. That is why keeping up with the latest information about parenting techniques and child development is so important. Parents with realistic expectations of children’s capabilities are better able to traverse and appreciate each phase of childhood with less worry and frustration.

Resources are available to support parents through each stage in their child’s development, including physical and mental developments, safe sleep, toilet training, growing child independence, education, money management and more. The Family Readiness System offers a wide range of services and support to families to refresh and enrich personal skills and healthy relationships and can connect parents with resources on and o of the installation. At the installation level, the New Parent Support Program offers strengths-based home visitation for parents of children ages birth to 3 years old and the Family Advocacy Program provides parenting education and support for all ages and stages.

Within the military community, the Family Advocacy Program works to strengthen military families and promote parenting skills and resilience. Services include home visitation for new parents, as well as education and support for parents of children and youth of all ages.

Child Abuse Prevention Month

Since 1983, April has been dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect through the observation of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The observance serves to educate parents and the community about warning signs and helpful resources, and reinforces that all community members share responsibility for the safety, protection and well-being of children.

Everyone can help protect children and keep our community safe. It only takes a minute to look out for a child or reach out to a parent under stress. Helping resources are readily available. If you suspect child abuse, report it to law enforcement, your installation Family Advocacy Program or the DoD Child Abuse and Safety Hotline at 877-790-1197. Even simple actions can make a difference for a child.

What do you need to know to effectively raise awareness about healthcare for military children?

  • Military families are less likely than civilian families to be impacted by risk factors for abuse including poverty, unemployment or limited access to health care. However, military families face special challenges such as frequent moves and extended family separations that may increase parenting stress.
  • Ranging in ages from newborn to eighteen years old, there are approximately 1.9 million military children
  • 765,000 children have Active Duty parents
  • Approximately 225,000 children have a parent who is deployed
  • Since 2001, more than 2,000,000 children have had one or more parents who have been deployed
  • More than 119,000 babies are born within the military health system each year
  • Important topics to consider on the TRICARE website when thinking about your child’s health coverage include:
    • Eye Exams
    • Immunizations
    • Newborn Care
    • Special Needs
    • Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy (ABA)
    • Well-Child Care
  • Three kids dancing in front of an American flag.
    When considering how health coverage affects your child, the important stages to consider are:
    • Having a Baby
    • Going to College
    • Children Becoming Adults
  • April 12–23 is National Infant Immunization Week
  • April 24–30 is World Immunization Week
  • April 25–29 is Every Kid Healthy Week
  • April 10 is National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day

(Sources: health.mil; dodlive.mil; tricare.mil)

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