Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Kristin V. Richards


Since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 2 million military-connected children experienced separation from a parent due to a military deployment. The purpose of this study was to identify and build upon the tools and techniques used by social workers when providing services to military children during a parental deployment. Bowen’s family systems theory provided the conceptual framework for this study. Family systems theory relies on the belief that military families are interdependent of one another and to fully understand what may be happening with military youth; social workers must look at and understand the entire family system. The questions that guided this study were designed to explore the tools and techniques social workers use to help military children understand deployment, reduce the adverse effects they may experience, and assist them to become more resilient during a parental military deployment. Data collection consisted of a focus group of 7 social workers providing services to military youth. Overall, participants noted a positive impact with current resources that are available for military youth and families during all phases of deployment. The lack of funding for additional resources were noted as limitations to effective practice with military youth during a deployment. The study has the potential to contribute to social change and improve services provided to military children and their families by increasing understanding of the emotional well-being and resiliency of military youth who experience parental deployments. The military can use the information from this study to provide more culturally competent support programs to military families during every stage of deployment.

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