First Stop

This is an archived program and therefore, may not contain current information.

First Stop Overview


First Stop is a program of the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) at The University of Southern Mississippi. IDS was designated by the Governor of the State of Mississippi as the lead entity to apply for funds under the Projects of National Significance; Projects for Family Support 360. IDS has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities to plan for the implementation of a coordinated one-stop center. These centers are to assist underserved families with a member who has a developmental disability by preserving, strengthening and maintaining the family. A First Stop council has been established to plan for the implementation of a coordinated one-stop center to assist military and veteran families who have child or adult member with a developmental disability.

Vision Statement

To support military and veteran families who have a child (to age 25) with a developmental disability by caring, sharing and coordinating resources to enhance quality of life.

Mission Statement

The mission of First Stop is to improve quality of life and family unity by providing comprehensive services to link all military families who have children (up to age 25) with developmental disabilities to their communities and communities to the families. First Stop serves all military families.

Project First Stop is a multi-agency and family effort. The Governor has appointed the Department of Human Services to assist with the planning and implementation phases of the project. IDS is also collaborating with various military and Veteran’s Administration representatives; numerous local and state community agency staff; and actual military and veteran families. The First Stop Planning Council is composed of various representatives all focused on creating a one-stop center to assist military and veteran families who have a child or adult member with developmental disability.

First Stop Family Support Center will target the military and veteran families due to the unique needs these families have. Many active and veteran military families face significant challenges and stressors associated with war and with poverty. In fact, the Pentagon has indicated that thousands of military families live in poverty. These families face numerous difficult and stressful issues such as the deployment of a parent, loss of a family member, lack of communication with loved ones, financial instability, and lack of resources. The challenges and stressors faced by military and veteran families are multiplied when a member of the family has a developmental disability. The support needed by these families is often specialized, intense and on-going.

The planning phase of the First Stop project has several overall issues to be determined. These include the following:

  • the support needs of targeted military and veteran families,
  • the parameters for services and supports,
  • the capacity for the use of information technology,
  • training needs,
  • existing resources,
  • existing funding streams, and
  • the legal and policy barriers to implementing a multi-agency one-stop center.
The Arc, a national organization that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families, seeks military families connected to individuals with I/DD to participate in a national disability needs survey. The Arc FINDS (Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports) is a free, online survey designed to tap into the knowledge and perspectives from families and individuals with disabilities on issues across the life span. Results will provide greater understanding about what disability-related services and supports are being received, where gaps exist, and what new supports may be needed from the military family perspective.

Planning Council

First Stop Planning Council is comprised of military families of children/ adults with disability, representatives from military agencies, and representatives from community agencies. These family members and military and community stakeholders serve to guide the planning process for developing, implementing and evaluating a multi-agency one-stop family support center that will serve military families who have a child or adult member with a developmental disability.


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