Courtesy of Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Fleet and Family Service Center
NAVAL WEAPONS STATION YORKTOWN, Va -- For many the choice to have children may be the biggest decision they will make in their adult lives. Often, expecting parents are faced with many questions, but a majority of those questions can be answered by the professionals at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Fleet and Family Support Center’s New Parent Support Program.
The goal of the New Parent Support Program is to promote healthy families through a variety of services including home visits, support groups, and parenting classes.
For new military parents the, no cost, New Parent Support Program provides trained staff who present information to parents on prenatal nutrition, fetal development, breastfeeding, infant care, car seat, parent/child relationships, and home safety. Parents who participate in the program also acquire knowledge about various approaches to handling stress, among other very important and relevant topics related to pregnancy and preparing for the arrival of their new baby.
“In most cases, New Parent Support Staff begin meeting with military mothers and fathers while mom is pregnant,” said Lisa Clarke, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown FFSC Licensed Professional Counselor and NPS Home Visitor. “Our goal is to assist parents to provide unborn, newborn, and toddler children with the healthiest and most nurturing environment possible.”
According to Clarke, the program is designed to reach parents when mothers are in the prenatal stage, however, parents can become a part of the New Parent Support services even after the birth of their baby… and even if they already have other children.
“Information on parenting does change as new research comes available; and many parents want to have that information,” said Clarke. “I have had numerous families with multiple children. In fact, one family who participated in the program had six lovely children. Those were parents who realized that they could always use the most current parenting information and support available, despite having been around the block a few times.”
The support offered by the NPSP program is sometimes the greatest benefit to new parents since they are often living away from their families of origin. Enrolled NPSP families may stay active in the program up until their child turns the age of four. During that time, NPS staff will provide parenting and child development information and will conduct screens to determine how the child is developing in communication, fine and large motor development, problem solving and social skills.
“Parents have expressed much interest and appreciation for these components of the program since it informs them of their child’s development, as well as alleviates, what are usually unwarranted concerns,” said Clarke. “However, should a screen reflect a genuine concern, the NPS staff will place the family in contact with services that will address their child’s need. It is always best to make early interventions in the lives of children for many reasons, but one major reason is that by doing so, they will be ready to learn when they begin school.”
An additional source of support that the Weapons Station Yorktown NPSP offers is the Parenting Resource and Playgroup that typically runs for eight to ten weeks, twice a year.
These Parenting Resource and Playgroup sessions provide the opportunity for parents to experience social connections with other adults, and their children to develop the social competence needed before they are of age to begin kindergarten.
“The benefit of this kind of social involvement makes for a more enjoyable parenting experience for the parents and a more memorable childhood for the young ones,” said Clarke.
If you or your partner is pregnant and are interested in receiving more information about the New Parent Support Program, contact the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Fleet and Family Service Center at 757-887- 4948 or 757-887-7428.
(Lisa Clarke, LPC, NCC, PsyD. Candidate, contributed to this article.)