This report found that children ages birth to six are especially vulnerable when one or both parents are deployed in a war zone, and from the effects of those deployments on the physical and mental health of the service members themselves. Young children are at higher risk of harm because of their emotional dependence on adults and their developing brains’ susceptibility to high levels of stress. The negative impacts of high stress can impact young children long-term. Child Trends’ communications effort drew attention to the risks to the 500,000 young children in military families, and also to the resources available to these families and the organizations that work with them.
Communications Strategies and Tactics
Child Trends developed an integrated mix of communication strategies and tactics to reach key audiences such as military family organizations, early childhood professionals, policymakers, media, and the military community. Child Trends wrote and distributed a news release on the report, and produced a 3-minute video, a Child Trends 5 (targeted newsletter) on the five risks facing young children in military families, and a social media toolkit for partner organizations. A number of key organizations and government offices were provided with a copy of the report prior to its launch and were invited to promote the findings. Child Trends also pre-briefed key print and broadcast reporters and orchestrated a proactive social media push on launch day. Three weeks after the launch, Child Trends co-hosted a Twitter chat for military families and organizations that serve them. Co-hosts included the U.S. Department of Defense, Military Families Learning Network, National Military Families Association, ZERO TO THREE, and Blue Star Families.
Media Coverage – Media coverage has totaled over 84 million media impressions. Key placements include: NPR, the Washington Post, TIME, UPI, Huffington Post, ABC Radio, CBS Radio, the Sacramento Bee, KIRO Radio, the Denver Post, the Buffalo News, the Virginian-Pilot, the Salt Lake City Deseret News, WTTG-Fox5, WJLA-ABC7, WTOP Radio (in Washington, D.C.), Stars and Stripes, and Bloomberg Businessweek.
Social Media – In addition to traditional media coverage, Child Trends engaged the public through strategic posts on Twitter and Facebook – which included promoting and linking to the report and accompanying video. The report has generated nearly 6 million Twitter impressions and 563 views on YouTube – a 68% increase over other recent top-viewed videos.
Policymaker Attention –The report attracted attention on Capitol Hill: a Dear Colleague letter was initiated on the topic, by the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee. Child Trends was also asked to discuss the report with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Military Community and Family Policy office.
Released July 2013