Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kinship Caregivers: Understanding Children and the Military Deployment Cycle

The deployment of a military parent is accompanied by many changes within the family. This is especially true if children are being cared for by a relative, such as a grandparent, sibling, aunt, or uncle, during deployment. These relatives are known as kinship caregivers. For kinship caregivers, understanding the basics of what is involved in a military deployment is vital to ensure a healthy transition for the children. Many kinship caregivers, especially those serving as caregivers for the children of guard or reserve service members, often do not understand the basics of the deployment process. Having a better grasp of what to expect while the service member is deployed will lead to a more secure and stable home environment.

            Military professionals who work with families have identified several phases that families go through during a parent’s deployment. These phases are defined not only by what is happening in the deployment process, but also by emotional changes and challenges children experience when a parent deploys. Deployment occurs in almost every branch of the military, and the experience differs for each family and each family member.

            To reflect the diversity of experiences, military professionals have proposed various models of the deployment cycle to assist families in the transition. Although each model has some unique differences, there are at least five phases that are common across models: pre-deployment, deployment, sustainment, preparation (also known as redeployment), and reunification (or home-coming). Recognizing that each family is unique, this deployment cycle, as summarized below, is intended not as a rule-book but as a helpful guide to families as they experience deployment of a parent.

To download the full publication “Kinship Care: Understanding Children and the Military Deployment Cycle” go to

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