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Interview with Daniel Perkins

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Daniel Perkins

What is the mission of Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness?

DP: To act as a place where providers can go to find programs that can be used to support military families and reports on the evidence behind those programs.

How does Clearinghouse’s method of gathering evidence about the strengths and weaknesses of various programs differ from other information-gathering organizations such as Good Housekeeping?

DP: Clearinghouse acts as a consumer report, so instead of telling you what the best product is, we present the information in reviews on our website. This way the provider can make an informed decision based on his or her needs.

As an organization designed to be a web-based resource for providers assisting military families, has it grown to serve other functions as well?

DP: Yes, we set up applied research opportunities, conduct assessments and evaluations, conduct rapid research literature reviews on specific topics, and create curricula.

What are some of the issues impacting families that you might focus on when looking for programs to evaluate?

DP: Issues may include parenting, substance abuse and prevention and intervention, suicide prevention, obesity prevention, and social-emotional learning or skill development programs at the elementary-school age.

How does the research performed by Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness benefit the organization’s partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)?

DP: We evaluate the programs they’re utilizing to be sure they’re effective, and if not, we help them make calculated decisions about where to redistribute funds. We also give them access to a fairly large scope of researchers.

How has NIFA’s relationship with land-grant universities and their partnership with the DoD allowed Clearinghouse to broaden its scope of projects to include evaluation, curriculum, and even program
development?

DP: The DoD’s desire to use evaluated programs and NIFA’s ability to transfer resources fairly easily, as well as their specialized knowledge of land-grant universities, have put us in a position to use applied research to make a positive difference in the lives of military families.

As a professor of family resiliency and policy, was your initial involvement with Clearinghouse influenced by the commitment of the extension system within the college to promote the well-being of families and youth?

DP: Yes, families play a critical role within the agricultural community, so the organization really fit well with extension’s mission to contribute to the welfare of society. We’re bringing research to bear on issues facing military families, and we do it in a way that extension was designed to do.

What do you hope to accomplish with the information used to provide support to military families?

DP: At the end of the day, I’m most interested in ensuring that providers have the information they need to make good decisions and better the lives of military folks. They’re the ones who put on the uniform every day and protect us, and it seems the least we can do is take care of them and their families as much as possible.

Interview written by Rachel Kaiser