Eighty-five public officials met at Kansas State University this week to develop means to better address the problems faced by children of military parents in Kansas.
The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), a non-profit group that develops resources and conducts conferences and training related to educating military children, helped facilitate the discussion about problems created by family relocations and other current concerns. The session was titled, “Living in the New Normal.”
“We will synchronize services to build and sustain support for Kansas’ children and youth whose families serve our nation now, have served in the past and will serve in the future,” the Kansas vision statement said.
K-State first lady Noel Schulz said Art DeGroat, director of military affairs at K-State and Briana Nelson Goff, director of the K-State Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families, served as K-State’s contact to bring MCEC onto campus.
“K-State is a leader in being involved nationally with military-related activities,” Schulz said. “So we wanted to continue that leadership in terms of supporting the military.”
At the conference, groups representing education, service providers, community and civic leaders, and service clubs and organizations develop how to sustain current efforts and responses that could be implemented immediately and in six months.
Goff said a state steering committee will review all of the action plans to create a singular plan. “MCEC provides us the guidance, but they don’t come in and say this is how you’re going to do this,” she said.
Goff said K-State will take this on as a primary program that it will continue to work on.
Brig. Gen. Don MacWillie, of Ft. Riley, and Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the state’s adjutant general, spoke during the conference about the struggles that military children face.
“They look just like every other child in our communities and schools,” Tafanelli said. “The challenge really becomes how do we identify those children, how do we identify particular issues they’re having and how do we match those up to our resources.”
MacWillie said issues for children include honor courses not being accepted and keeping them off athletic teams since they are likely to leave, something that happened to his son. He said the MCEC has helped smooth the issue of moving from state to state.
“I hoped all of the key stakeholders in the state of Kansas would know the challenges and get some promises,” he said about his expectations for the conference.