What Is Family Support And How Can It Help Us?
By: Jessica Saxena
Updated November 20, 2019
Medically Reviewed By: Stephanie Chupein
You want to provide the best for your family, but sometimes you fall on hard times. Maybe your family is in crisis, or maybe you're unable to meet your family's basic needs. Whether you're struggling financially or your family is in turmoil because a parent has been called away for military service, there are family support services and help available for you and your loved ones. Read on to learn about the many options available for families like yours.
The Importance of Family Support
Regardless of the source, family support services all have the same basic goal: to help families improve their lives. Support may come in the form of child-support, energy assistance, Medicare, employment and skills training, counseling services, or a special family support center for the different branches of the military. With all of the different types of family support available, there's no reason to face your greatest challenges on your own. When family life seems unbearable, either due to relationship issues, practical problems, or financial difficulties, you can get the help you need and even improve your family's quality of life.
Never think that getting help is a sign of weakness. Instead, it's a sign of wisdom because it shows you understand that sometimes life is too hard to go it alone. More than 20 percent of the U.S. population is actively getting some form of family support from federal programs every month, and there are even more getting support from private organizations. If you're facing challenges, you're not alone. It's essential to get family support when your family needs it, and being smart enough to ask for it may prevent more serious problems in the future.
Different Kinds of Family Support
Numerous programs exist to help struggling families make ends meet. Some of these programs are solely financial, while others provide necessary services like childcare, healthcare, and counseling services. You may need family support because you have fallen on difficult times or because a partner has been deployed overseas. Whatever the reason, these services exist for a reason, so you should seek the help you need.
Who is a Family Support Specialist?
If you get help from any family support organization, you might deal with a family support specialist. These specialists are social workers who can evaluate your family's needs, arrange assistance for you, and provide you with referrals for educational and support programs. They may specialize in areas like domestic violence or child protective services, and they work with families that include children, people with disabilities, or the elderly. In many cases, they also provide counseling for these families.
Child Support and Maintenance
After a divorce, many families have a hard time surviving without child support and maintenance. Each month, this extra cash helps to keep them afloat despite the high costs of raising a child and dealing with the various additional expenses that are a normal part of family life. Unfortunately, sometimes the task of even getting child support can be overwhelming. That's why there are programs in place to help you register your child support claim and locate the other parent from whom you're seeking support. Each state in the U.S. is required to have a family support registry to collect childcare payments and disperse them to families with child support orders or maintenance agreements.
Federal Family Support Programs
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Children and Families offer a number of different programs that are designed to help support parents, caregivers, and their families. These agencies are often thought of as programs to prevent child abuse, which is true, but they also offer programs to help families with healthcare, childcare, food assistance, child support, housing, and special services for children and youth with disabilities. In addition, they help families identify support through other programs and organizations, including United Way, Just In Time Parenting, and the National Parent Helpline.
For families that are suffering with substance abuse or mental health issues, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) works to educate the public and professionals on common mental health issues. They also connect individuals with self-help and peer-support groups to battle addiction and mental health issues.
Military Family Support Centers
The military has a family support center organization for each branch of the service. These centers' programs are designed to meet the unique needs of members of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marines.
Soldier and Family Services (Army)
Soldier and Family Services is the Army program designed to help service members and their families. This program offers counseling services and support groups for this unique population. There, they can also find help with relocation, money management, legal assistance, and deployment services. Family advocacy services also offer groups for abuse prevention, parenting support, and help for families with special needs.
Furthermore, the Child and Youth Services program of Soldier and Family Services offers a wide array of support services, including sports programs, youth education support, before-and-after school programs, daycare, and outreach programs for Army families living on post or in the surrounding community. The Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Program offers both support and leisure services for these service members and any soldier worldwide.
Fleet and Family Support Center
The Fleet and Family Support Center offers three main types of family support services. First, the Core Family Readiness program, also called Work and Life, supports the mission directly by helping service members and their families navigate the unique lifestyle that the Navy requires.
Work and Life programs help with physical, interpersonal, emotional, and logistical problems. Some programs address the challenges that occur when the service member is deployed. Others help families make major life transitions, relocate, or find employment. There is also help with financial management. Finally, the Work and Life program helps families with Emergency Preparedness.
The second main program of the Fleet and Family Support Center is the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. The third program is the Navy Gold Star Program, which is the Navy's program for helping families with long-term non-medical case management and support for surviving families of service members who have died on active duty.
Airman & Family Readiness Center (Air Force)
The Airman and Family Readiness Center (AFRC) provides services geared toward Air Force members and their families. They help service members and their families prepare for deployment, whether it's remote duty or long TDYs. As part of this, they provide pre- and post-deployment briefings, which are required for airmen and recommended for spouses.
Additionally, the AFRC offers relocation assistance for PCS moves. They give a newcomer briefing for incoming airmen and their families and supply them with information on the local area. They also offer employment assistance for airmen and their spouses. Many Air Force spouses enjoy volunteering at this family support center to meet new people on their base.
Marine & Family Programs
The Marines' Marine & Family Programs have counseling as well as support groups for new parents, substance abuse, sexual assault, and Families OverComing Under Stress (FOCUS). They offer victim advocacy, too. In addition, Military and Family Life Counselors offer suicide prevention and substance abuse counseling. Plus, there's help for dealing with local schools, learning life skills, and advancing your career through employment services and educational resources. Finally, there are Financial Management and Retired Services offices, and the programs include a library and youth sports programs.
Don't Get Overwhelmed Because You Need Support
When you're struggling to make ends meet or to solve your family's issues, it can be overwhelming. Here are some things you can do to help ease the overwhelm and move toward getting the support you need.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you sort through them, so you can understand what's really bothering you. Journals can also serve as a reminder of how far you've come, or they can serve as a record of how you tackled a problem, so you can make improvements in the future.
Make a Plan
Sit down and honestly evaluate your current situation. Then identify steps you can take to address any issues. Breaking the big picture down into small, actionable steps can make it seem less overwhelming. If a situation feels trying and overwhelming, a plan can provide direction.
Expand Your Support Network
Meet others in your community who have shared interests or who are in similar situations. You might meet a new friend and find an extra bit of emotional support that you simply can't find elsewhere.
Ask for Help
Sometimes, we look like we have it all together, so others simply don't know that we need help. Asking for help when you need it can help you gain perspective and build stronger relationships of others. With any luck, you may also discover new strategies and different ways to cope with your current situation.
Actively taking the time to reflect on what you're grateful for can help you feel more positive and give you a new approach to tackling the situation at hand. Practicing gratitude regularly may also reduce aggression, improve self-esteem, help you feel more positive, improve your sleep quality, and even improve your physical and psychological health.
How BetterHelp Can Help
Sometimes you might need to talk to an objective third-party who can help you decide what to do. Seeking the help of a professional counselor can make a big difference, especially when you're feeling overwhelmed because you need support for your family.
It's normal to feel unsure or hesitant to reach out to a counselor for the first time. You can start slowly by talking to someone online at BetterHelp. With their support, you'll learn more about how to deal with your situation, and you can find out how family support works.
It's important to know that talking with a BetterHelp counselor is completely confidential and private. You can get in touch with your counselor wherever it's convenient for you, communicating via phone, video, messages, or chat. Below you'll find reviews of BetterHelp counselors from others in similar situations.
"Ava was a great help to me. She supported me through a transition period in my life and also helped me work through some issues that I have been facing with a parent. She is very frank but also listens and reads with a keen and empathetic ear. I appreciated having a counselor of similar racial and ethnic background to me as she had insight into the particulars of my family dynamics and past experiences. I am happy with my experience with her."
"I came on to BetterHelp because I felt like I was a breaking point with my mental health and was having issues with my family that was going in no direction towards a solution. I met Kelli and with a few days of exploding and venting I felt so much better . I felt even better after a couple of weeks of discussing the different issues at home and she helped me look at things in different perspectives . I'm learning to relax and not waste my energies on pointless issues and issues that I don't have control over."
You Can Give Your Family What They Need
Your current situation might seem overwhelming, but you can get through it. You can get the support you need with various family support services and by talking to a BetterHelp counselor. Take the first step today.
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