Community Support Update
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 3, 1997 The Defense Departments's campaign to improve service and family members' quality of life continues.
Here is an update of ongoing community support programs and goals.
- Child development programs: There are about 1 million children 12 and under in the military community, and about 65 percent of military spouses are employed. DoD's child care system is the largest employer-sponsored program in the nation, serving more than 200,000 children from birth through age 12 daily.
Based on a projected military force of 1.4 million, DoD estimates it needs just over 299,000 child care spaces. At present, DoD is meeting 56 percent of the need for care in military child development programs, with 166,300 spaces at 300 locations. The goal for fiscal 1998 is to meet 65 percent of the need. The ultimate goal is to meet 80 percent of the need by 2005.
- Youth programs: There are more than 302,500 military youth between 12 and 18. DoD recently surveyed adolescents and is now exploring options to provide them positive outlets. Pilot Model Communities youth programs are under way at 19 locations in the United States and overseas. Military family centers are expanding youth programs in collaboration with Boys and Girls Clubs of America. DoD officials will activate a computer inventory and referral system for youth, linking them to local youth programs whenever they relocate.
- Domestic violence programs: DoD has intensified efforts to prevent spouse abuse by emphasizing zero tolerance and providing programs in marriage enrichment, improving communications and financial, stress and anger management.
- New parent support programs: One of DoD's most popular people programs, for new parent support, is designed to prevent child abuse by helping parents, particularly young junior enlisted, with education and support when their baby is born. The program provides prenatal and postnatal home visiting services and emphasizes responsible fatherhood. It also helps prevent spouse abuse since the risk is high during pregnancy and immediately after the child's birth, officials said. About 150 new parent support teams provided services to more than 63,000 families and home visits to more than 33,000 families during fiscal 1996 and 1997.
- Family centers: DoD's 284 family centers offer a wide range of educational and human services. One of this year's biggest initiatives is to address financial debt among young military members, officials said. Credit is easier to obtain than in the past, and the need for a strong, preventive financial management policy for service members is evident. DoD has allocated funds to develop interactive video training on personal financial management.
Officials recently opened a family center intranet and an Internet web site. The intranet allows family center staffs to provide instant communication during contingency operations. The Standard Installation Topic Exchange Service provides pictures, maps housing floor plans and other information on military installations via the Internet. Under the Military Assistance Program, a second web site will provide information on relocation, transition, employment and parenting assistance.
- Spouse employment: DoD has initiated three major strategies to strengthen spouse employment programs and provide military spouses the tools to enhance employment options. Pilot programs in cooperation with the Small Business Administration are under way at bases in Norfolk, Va., and Jacksonville, N.C., to help spouses set up transportable small businesses. DoD officials are working to promote hiring of spouses by national and international businesses. Ten programs are under way testing different strategies to enhance spouse employment opportunities.
- Transition assistance: Transition services help more than 300,000 service members and their families return to civilian life each year. Assistance programs save DoD as much as $150 million a year in unemployment insurance costs, officials said. During fiscal 1996, service members made about 840,000 visits to transition offices for preseparation counseling and employment assistance.
The departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs provided 3,200 employment assistance workshops at 204 military installations. The Defense Outplacement Referral System is a resume data base and referral system linking private sector employers to departing members and spouses. The data base includes more than 16,300 employers. Almost 1.2 million resumes were forwarded to employers in fiscal 1996. The Transition Bulletin Board, set up to encourage public and community service, has 1,400 organizations listed.
- Physical fitness: DoD is focusing on improving physical fitness facilities and activities within military communities. Officials recently surveyed fitness facilities, including equipment, hours of operation and their location to help determine the greatest needs.
- DoD Education Activity: DoD is working to incorporate advanced technology in its dependent schools. Plans include providing all teachers and students access to computers, developing curriculum software, linking DoD schools to the World Wide Web. A total of $12.5 million is allocated in the proposed fiscal 1998 budget for technology initiatives.
Note to Editors: This is intended as a sidebar to article #97154.