Chaplain (Capt.) Katherine Scott, 20th Fighter Wing chaplain and expecting mother, reads over pre-natal and childcare information offered at the family advocacy program’s booth at a deployed spouses’ dinner, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., July 23, 2012. The FAP attends events such as these to pass out information on the various programs they offer. This assistance can be especially helpful to parents who are raising their children alone while their spouse is deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Blackwell/Released)
Michelle Vance (left), 20th Medical Group family advocacy program nurse, speaks with Chaplain (Capt.) Katherine Scott, 20th Fighter Wing chaplain and expecting mother about what programs the FAP offer at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., July 23, 2012. The FAP set up a booth at the deployed spouses’ dinner to show their support for parents who are raising their children alone while their spouses are deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Blackwell/Released)
During this deployed spouses’ dinner, the family advocacy program offered “How Can We Help” forms for mothers’ and fathers’ to fill out, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., July 23, 2012. These forms are designed to get feedback from mothers’ and fathers’ as to what issues they are having trouble with and need help solving. Once the FAP receives this information they look into making programs that correspond with parents’ desires and concerns. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Blackwell/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Daniel Blackwell
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
7/24/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 20th Medical Group's Family Advocacy Program offers many preventive and educational services, as well as intervention for individual and family issues.
On the preventive side they offer many programs and services such as "Dads 101", "Within Our Reach" relationship enhancement class, newborn care classes, and the "Awesome Parenting" program. Other educational courses include child birth classes and pre-natal yoga classes for mothers.
Childbirth classes (held twice a month) are geared toward education and orientation regarding childbirth and labor. The "Dads 101" class (held twice a month) educates young fathers on topics such as coping with crying babies and proper care of a newborn.
The "Within Our Reach" relationship enhancement course (held quarterly) focuses on couples learning new communication styles to improve their relationship.
The newborn care class (held monthly) and "Awesome Parenting" class (contact the FAP for dates) focus on child care and raising techniques designed to promote parent and child interaction.
Pre-natal yoga classes (held monthly) are also offered through the FAP.
The FAP offers home visits as well. During these visits they assist individuals with any issues within their residence. This service, as well as the other programs, does not require insurance or payment of any kind.
Aside from the many educational and prevention programs, immediate intervention may sometimes be needed. The FAP prefers to avoid problems escalating to extreme situations of abuse or neglect by educating parents and spouses as soon as possible.
"Most child abuse comes from a parent lashing out at their child in a moment of utter frustration that isn't planned or intentional," explained Patti Busser, the family advocacy program outreach manager. "We try to prevent this from happening by educating parents through our programs."
Unfortunately in many cases parents and spouses wait until they become overwhelmed by their situations before seeking help or counsel through the FAP, said Busser.
In cases where parents fail to seek help, and neglect or abuse is suspected or confirmed, the FAP must take more immediate and severe actions.
"It's known that in the military we are governed by policies and AFIs," explained Capt. Michelle A. Gramling, 20th Medical Group chief family advocacy program resiliency element, alcohol drug abuse prevention treatment program manager, and drug demand reduction officer in charge.
"According to AFI 40-301, all suspected child or spouse abuse should be reported to family advocacy. The abuse doesn't have to be confirmed, just suspected" she explained. "It's our job when we get these referrals or calls, to screen each one and investigate."
The FAP's main duty aside from prevention and education products and services is to investigate such cases and ensure the safety and well being of family members and spouses.
"Safety is our number one priority in all cases," Gramling concluded. "Once we've thoroughly investigated a case, we make counseling recommendations based on the family's needs."
The FAP offers a myriad of resources both intervention and prevention based, and encourages Airmen to take advantage of them before problems escalate in severity.
More information is available either at the FAP office on the second floor of the 20th Medical Group's medical treatment facility or through their facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shaw-Air-Force-Base-Family-Advocacy-Resiliency-Programs/101052863319853.