Parental military deployments pose a host of challenges for child and family well-being. Military family support programs have proliferated since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago to address these emotional, social, and academic issues, but there has been little evaluation of whether these programs are meeting their key objectives. To help fill this gap, a RAND study team explored the curriculum, themes, and outcomes of Operation Purple, a free weeklong summer camp program for youth with a deployed parent. Using a quasi-experimental approach, the study incorporated youth and parent survey data (from both camp attendees and a control group of non-attendees) and camp after-action reports and visitor observation logs to determine whether there were differences between attendees and non-attendees in the four camp theme areas: comfort and skill in communicating about feelings, understanding and appreciation of military life, sense of service/stewardship, and outdoor education. The study also sought to determine how and to what extent the program's curriculum was implemented by participating camps in the summer of 2011. Despite limitations in the data (e.g., a non-random study sample, some variation in curriculum implementation across camps), the study found some positive effects from camp participation, particularly in communicating about feelings, as well as valuable youth and parent perspectives about camp, reflected in responses to open-ended questions. As such, it helps lay the groundwork for future investigation of similar support programs for military youth and their families.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Place of Publication||Santa Monica, CA|
|Number of pages||174|
|State||Published - 2012|
|Name||RAND Technical Reports|