Military Family Outreach

MFOCC (Military Family Outreach Cape Cod) is a national effort that is focused on supporting the children and families of service members during deployment. In Massachusetts, this effort is coordinated by the University of Massachusetts Extension 4-H Program. Extension Educator Kerry Bickford is a partner on the MA statewide MFOCC team, and is chair of MFO Cape Cod.

Military Family Outreach, Cape Cod Extension is a cape-wide effort to sustain the work begun by the Department of Defense’s now retired Operation Military Kids Program (2005-2010). As an original member of the statewide Operation Military Kids team and the coordinator of Operation Military Kids, Cape Cod (since 2007), Kerry Bickford has supported geographically dispersed families and provided camping opportunities for children with families in the deployment cycle, as well as veterans and their families. Kerry has also planned special holiday events for families experiencing a deployment, as well as after-school and other enrichment activities for youth in these families.

The focus of Military Family Outreach, Cape Cod Extension (MFOCCE) has expanded to include not only those families in the deployment cycle, but also those experiencing reunion and reintegration. One of the significant changes that we, as a society, have undergone in recent years is awareness that not only are deployments hard, but homecoming and reintegration can be, and often is, even harder. Many Cape Cod families have experienced multiple deployments in one household, including one or both parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. These families learn to cope with much uncertainty and stress while their loved one is serving, and communication is not always consistent. The military has embraced the concept of resilience, and has worked hard over the past ten years to help warriors develop resiliency in the face of the stressors and losses they may encounter (When the Warrior Returns, 2012). With programs like MFOCCE, and so many others that have joined forces in our community, we are attempting to reach out to military families who live and work in this community, and offer as much local support as we can.

As a youth development professional for most of my career, I have seen a great deal of research devoted to the identification of protective factors in the face of environmental stressors. Much of the research indicates that resilient outcomes are likely to be present when there are protective factors in place, similar to the five promises identified by America’s Promise Alliance (Caring Adults, Safe Places, Effective Education, a Healthy Start and Opportunities to Serve Others). These five promises continue to guide my work on behalf of all youth and are a compass compass for the work we are doing for military families on Cape Cod.

Youth Related Camps and Resources for Military Families

FIT Family Camp ~ July 9-13, 2018

Click here for details

Saddle Up & Learn – Resiliency, Respect & Responsibility ~ July 23-27, 2018

Click here for details

–   https://vimeo.com/109408295 Families In Transition (FIT) is a partnership between Smithfield Farm, Operation Military Kids, and Heroes In Transition which provides military families the opportunity to attend free camps during the summer at Smithfield Farm in Falmouth, MA.
–   www.4-H.org 4-H enables America’s youth to emerge as leaders through hands-on learning in order to give back to their local communities. Ask about the 4-H military partnership opportunities.
–  www.bgca.org  Boys & Girls Clubs offer free or reduced membership for military youth
–  www.childcareaware.org   For help finding child care fee assistance or call Child Care Aware at 1- 800-424-2246     M-F 8:30a.m.-7:00p.m. EST.
–   www.MilitaryKidsConnect.org is a Department of Defense-sponsored website to help military kids support one another and learn coping and resilience-building skills. MilitaryKidsConnect.org recognizes that when parents deploy, kids deploy too.
–   www.militaryonesource.com  24/7 resource and referral for all kinds of topics. 1-800-342-9647.
–   National Guard Youth Programs 888-301-3103 ext 7290  Programming for youth ages 6 – 18 and a Teen Panel.
–   www.nmfa.org  (National Military Family Association) Search “our programs” for Operation Purple programs serving military families in three different phases of military life – deployment, reintegration, and coming together after an injury. Operation Purple Camp, Operation Purple Family Retreats or Operation Purple Healing Adventures.
–  www.operationhomefront.net   Operation Homefront provides emergency assistance and morale assistance for our troops, for the families they leave behind, and for wounded warriors when they return home.
www.ourmilitarykids.org Grants for enrichment activities and tutoring for military youth when a family member is deployed.
www.sittercity.com/dod   new program to help all military service members find  in-home care providers:  babysitters, nannies, elder care companions, even pet sitters.
–  www.tutor.com/military  free around the clock tutoring in 16 subjects for military youth.
www.ymca.net  reduced fees during deployments.  Ask about the Y’s Military Outreach Initiative
www.capecodveteransdirectory.com list of the services offered to the Cape and Islands veterans, military and their families.

Contact Kerry

If you would like to get involved, please contact Kerry Bickford at kbickford@barnstablecounty.org or 508-375-6695.

Also, check out her blogApril Fool’s Blog KB 2017