When I tell people about the Military Families Learning Network, I take a moment before answering. Since fewer than 1 percent of the US population serves in the military, many are unaware of the strength of military families and of the issues facing military families with multiple deployments. The Military Families Learning Network is one component of many in the Military-Extension Partnership. Some people are surprised that Cooperative Extension has an educational role in supporting military families. Many don’t know that supporting military families is important to the Department of Defense and the four military branches. Keeping military families strong helps keep the military strong. The Department of Defense and land-grant universities have partnered to support military families by using the strength of the research and Extension found in land-grants.
The Military Families Learning Network is about connecting family specialists and educators in Cooperative Extension and in the military with one another to share resources, discuss effective (and non effective) programs, find solutions, discover new resources, and build educational programs and knowledge through online collaboration.
There is a lot of content for military family service professionals (sometimes called helping professionals), but sometimes these professionals don’t know where to find effective programs or don’t know if the programs they are using are effective. Cooperative Extension family educators have content and programs but these may not have been developed for the unique needs of military family service professionals. We expect that when family specialists from the military and Extension connect, programs from both (Extension and military) will improve.
The Military Families Learning Network will not replace military family programs, rather it is a community where military family service professionals can find others like them and connect with family educators from land-grant universities. Connecting and using online relationships to discover and discuss resources will enable military family service professionals to support military families better.
In the next few weeks, we will be sharing more about the Military Families Learning Network and resources for military family service professionals. We will begin to discuss issues affecting military families and research-based programs and education. We are particularly excited about providing professional development web conferences for those who serve military families.
These are the four areas that we will be concentrating on: Child Care, Family Development, Personal Finance, and Network Literacy. In each of these areas, we will be talking online, on this blog, in Facebook, Twitter, and other spaces about education, information, programs and issues pertaining to serving military families better.