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College of Human Ecology

K-State Family Studies and Human Service professors receive grants fro military child care projects

Friday, December 9, 2005

MANHATTAN -- Several faculty members and a graduate student in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University have received grants for various projects relating to the care of military children.

Bill Meredith, head of the School of Family Studies and Human Services, said with the increase in the number of soldiers coming to Fort Riley, more child care and related programs will be needed on post and in the surrounding communities.

"Child care is very important for all families, but of particular importance to military families who are stressed in many directions with deployment and other hardships," Meredith said. "Fort Riley is a very important neighbor of K-State. We should do what we can do to help our neighbors."

The grants will fund projects that will help find child care providers, deal with the stress of having a deployed parent, and establish 4-H clubs on Army bases and Air Force installations.

A project called "Army Sponsored Quality Child Care Project" will find child care providers to care for children of Fort Riley military personnel. Gwen Bailey, project director in family studies and human services, and Patty Peschel, graduate student in special education, Manhattan, and an early care and education specialist at the Flint Hills Resource and Referral Agency, received a $482,975 grant from the National Association of Child Care, Resource and Referral Agencies.

Bailey, who also is the coordinator of the Flint Hills Resource and Referral Agency, said Fort Riley already has a system on post that takes care of child care -- through family providers and a child care center -- however, the current system is not meeting the fort's needs and should be expanded.

"The expansion is coming from the military realizing they weren't addressing issues that military members have, such as child care," Bailey said. "Even though they were providing the service already, they wanted to expand it into the community."

The Flint Hills Resource and Referral Agency is responsible for completion of the grant. With the expected influx in the number of military coming to Fort Riley, Bailey said not all would be able to find housing in Geary and Riley counties and might live in other nearby communities where they can find housing. The goal of the project is to set up child care wherever these families set up residence, she said.

The Flint Hills Resource and Referral Agency will work to recruit child care centers and family child care providers in local areas. The agency will train them in child abuse prevention, fire, health and safety procedures, and also to maintain Army quality standards.

A project called "Operation Military Kids" involves designing a statewide effort to deal with stress when parents are unexpectedly deployed to help in the war effort. Elaine Johannes, extension specialist for family studies and human services, and Diane Mack, extension specialist of 4-H youth development, received a two-year grant from the Department of the Army. It's worth $50,000 for each year. The project will focus on Army Reserve and National Guard families across Kansas.

"Families left behind are ill-equipped to deal with changes -- financial and social -- and the new demands on the youth themselves and how they should fit in with a community that may not know their family situation," Johannes said. "These families aren't in large urban areas or on a military installation. They're scattered across the state."

While Operation Military Kids has been under way for a couple of years nationally, Kansas was invited to apply because of the state's high number of Army Reserve and National Guard members.

Marlene Glasscock, research assistant professor of family studies and human services, received three grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set up 4-H clubs on Army and Air Force installations. The first grant, a "4-H Army Youth Development Project," is for $1,016,161.

The project is a partnership between the USDA and Army Child and Youth Services. While several universities are involved, Glasscock and K-State will deal with its staff development aspects. A current aspect involves adapting 4-H baby-sitting and home-alone curriculum for Army use.

The project works to establish 4-H clubs on Army installations, integrate resources of 4-H and Boys and Girls Clubs of America, accredit school-age programs, promote youth program excellence, activate the child and youth management system, install and support youth computer labs and support a teen chain of communication.

The second grant, an "Air Force Partnership for 4-H Opportunities," is for $782,250. The purpose is to understand what 4-H is and how to start 4-H clubs on air force bases, including those overseas. The project also provides 4-H "101" training for all bases and Air Force 4-H Adventure summer camps for youth of deployed Air Force members.

"The 4-H program provides consistency and predictability for youth," Glasscock said. "That's important to military youth who move frequently."

The third grant, a "Children, Youth and Families at Risk Supported Extension Staff Development" project, is for $566,987. The project supports both the Army and Air Force with 4-H programming. Every state has a 4-H military liaison, who is the link between counties, military 4-H programs and the national projects, Glasscock said. The project also helps provide a 4-H "101" training manual for military and extension staff.

This article was posted on Friday, December 9, 2005, and is filed under College News, Family Studies & Human Services.