Preparing for Deployment: Supporting Young Children

Child holding soldier's hand

Preparing for the deployment of a service member is an emotionally, physically, and relationally taxing time for parents in a military family facing deployment. (Read more about the challenges for parents.) But the adults are not the only ones affected. In spite of the fact that young children are able to understand very little about what lies ahead, particularly if this is the first deployment they’ve faced, deployment is a stressful experience for them because it affects the most …

Preparing for Deployment: Stressors for Parents


Perhaps the most disruptive, yet most common event for today’s military families is deployment. It’s easy to believe that the separation of a service member from his or her family for months at a time would be difficult for every member of the family. What may be surprising, though, is that the months leading up to deployment can be stressful, too.

The Emotional Cycle of Deployment

Those who study the psychological well-being of military families talk about five stages …

Jane Lanigan

Jane Lanigan

Jane Lanigan is the co-leader of the national eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care community of practice, which actively engages and educates child care providers, parents, and community leaders with high-quality web-based early childhood resources and learning experiences.

Dr. Lanigan is an Associate Professor at Washington State University Vancouver. She is also a Specialist with WSU Extension, where she provides leadership for Extension education with parents and caregivers of young children. She has a B. A. in Psychology and Elementary …

Supporting Young Military-Connected Children When They Are Most Vulnerable

Girl with curly hair crying

Child care professional Kara can tell when a parent of one of her toddlers is deployed simply by the increase in tantrums and clinging and the loss of skills like potty training.

What’s happening here? The short answer is stress. Kara’s toddlers are communicating (sometimes very loudly) that they are experiencing changes to their small world that they don’t understand, have no control over, and don’t know what to do about. Their bodies and brains are reacting with the …

Diane Bales

Diane Bales is the co-leader of the national eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care community of practice, which actively engages and educates child care providers, parents, and community leaders with high-quality web-based early childhood resources and learning experiences. As an Associate Professor in the University of Georgia’s Department of Human Development and Family Science, she teaches traditional and online courses in child development and early learning. She is also a Human Development Specialist with UGA Cooperative Extension, where she provides …

Young Children and Reintegration: When a Deployed Parent Comes Home

Welcome home

Welcoming a deployed parent home is such an exciting time for a military family! Even very young children catch the excitement of anticipating a long-awaited homecoming. But once the exhilaration of reunion day passes, the family begins the long, slow, often challenging, and always emotional experience of reconnecting and reestablishing life with their service member at home. Child care professionals who work with military families can play a critical supporting role as children and parents alike go through the …

Provider-Parent Relationships: 7 Keys to Good Communication


parent and provider talkingIf we want children to thrive in child care settings, then it makes sense to intentionally build positive relationships with the adults who play the largest roles in the children’s daily lives: their parents*. Good communication is essential for building those relationships, but good communication doesn’t just happen. As child care professionals, we must be reflective and intentional about achieving effective parent-provider relationships through good communication.

Below are seven steps that child care professionals can take to set the stage …

Caring for Children with Special Needs from Military Families

Child using reverse walker
Being a child care provider means doing your very best to provide excellent care and learning opportunities to young children, including those with disabilities and other special needs. A recent study has found that child care providers who have experience and training in caring for children with special needs along with typically developing children find it challenging, but also rewarding, to be able to provide such a valuable support to these families.*

Added Challenges for Military Families

Providing valuable support …

Child Care and Military Families

U.S. Navy Officer hugging his daughterThe young children of military families need the same kind of child care experiences that all children need: care that is warm and responsive, learning opportunities that are developmentally appropriate, and relationships that respect the whole family. But providing high-quality care also means understanding the many ways that children and families differ and tailoring our care in response. When we enroll military-connected families into our program, that means taking responsibility to learn all the ways that military service impacts children …

Supporting Dads in Child Care: Let’s Play!

Father and toddler girl with doll

Supporting young children in child care includes helping to strengthen parent-child relationships. Many families who enroll their children in child care may be young, inexperienced parents. First-time fathers in particular may need extra encouragement as they establish relationships with their young children, and that’s a role child care providers are well suited for, yet often overlook.

Supporting father involvement with children may be especially important for child care programs that include military families. These families face the possible absence of …