Exploring the Advocacy Experiences of Military Families with Children Who Have Disabilities

Janeth Aleman-Tovar, Kristen Schraml-Block, Robyn DiPietro-Wells, Meghan Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When children with disabilities receive appropriate services, they experience long-term developmental benefits. Yet, military families of children with disabilities in the United States report lacking access to needed services and having difficulty navigating service delivery systems. Unlike civilian families, military families face added stressors such as deployment and relocation. Parent advocacy may be critical for military families of children with disabilities to access needed services. However, little research has explored advocacy among military families. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the advocacy experiences of military families of children with disabilities. Using a snowballing sampling, we conducted individual interviews with 11 military parents of children with disabilities from five states. Participants reported unique military experiences (e.g., satisfaction with the coverage of their healthcare program but had difficulty navigating healthcare policies), barriers to advocacy (e.g., limited school resources), and facilitators to advocacy (e.g., perseverance and resilience). Based on the findings, implications for practice and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-853
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Disability
  • Military families
  • Parent advocacy
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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