FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- April is both the Month of the Military Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month.And while the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in planned events being cancelled on post, the Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Army Community Service still stands ready to support Soldiers and families, said Joy McCormick, Fort Rucker Family Advocacy Program and New Parent Support Program home visitor.“Military children are asked to be flexible and endure many obstacles during their parents’ military careers. They demonstrate great resilience in life,” she said. “All of the special activities that were planned for this month have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but ACS Family Advocacy Program has attempted to share helpful tips to families via social media during the pandemic to help address the added stressors of created by the current conditions.“There are many activities being offered online for families to do at home,” McCormick added. “Do outdoor activities, play board games, read a book, put puzzles together, start a family craft project, do spring cleaning, or be creative with activities.”One ACS-promoted activity is the Kindness Chain, she said, which challenges families to write an act of kindness that they have witnessed during the day or week and begin creating their chain.“Once we are able to gather together again, we will be asking Fort Rucker families to share their chains with the Fort Rucker community,” McCormick said.National Child Abuse Prevention Month is an annual observance in the United States dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse and neglect. April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States since 1983, she added.“It is a commitment to giving every child a chance to succeed, and to ensure that every child grows up in a safe, stable and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect,” McCormick added.“ACS is raising awareness of the Department of Defense and Fort Rucker commitment to keeping military children safe through the prevention of abuse and neglect by highlighting the power of a safe, caring adult in the life of a child,” McCormick continued. “A caring adult with a steady presence in a child’s life can be a source of trust and support, and is especially important for kids with adverse childhood experiences. Children who grow up with such an adult in their lives are significantly more likely to develop healthy social behaviors and positive coping skills that will help them to weather life’s difficulties, including abuse and neglect.”She said that people who suspect abuse is taking place, should remember that “it is not your place to prove that abuse is taking place, but if you suspect abuse, report it.” People should call their local department of human resources (Coffee County, 334-348-2000; Dale County, 334-445-4900; and Houston County, 334-677-0400) and make a report, or “call the military police at 255-2222 if you live on post, and your local law enforcement if you live off post.”She added that people can also call the family advocacy program at 255-3898 if they live on post.DOD, the Army and Fort Rucker meets its commitment to battling child abuse by providing numerous resources for Soldiers and families to use as needed, she said.The Fort Rucker Family Advocacy Program offers parenting classes for all ages of children, from infancy to teens. There are also free programs and learning opportunities for military parents available through the program and Military One Source, including:· NPSP: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/family-relationships/parentingand-children/parenting-infants-and-toddlers/the-new-parent-support-program;· Period of Purple Crying Resources for Parents of Newborns: http://purplecrying.info/;· THRIVE: https://thrive.psu.edu/;· New MilParent Specialty Consultation: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/confidentialhelp/specialty-consultations/new-milparent/new-milparent-consultation; and· Teach Your Kids Healthy Body Boundaries: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/familyrelationships/family-life/preventing-abuse-neglect/teach-your-kids-healthy-boundaries.McCormick, who works with the program, said NPSP is a great resource for new parents.“NPSP offers education and support to military families in dealing with the time of pregnancy through the child’s age of 3 years,” she said. “Anything that impacts a parent or child during this time, NPSP can assist with. We offer classes, one-on-one home visits, and referrals for support services within the military, as well as the community, if needed. Anyone can do a referral to our program.”NPSP is in Bldg. 5700, Rm. 371G, and can also be reached at 255-3359.She also had some quick advice for parents who find themselves struggling with the challenges parenting raises.“Ask for help! Seek resources for assistance – you don’t have to do this alone,” McCormick said. “You don’t have to do everything perfectly – spend time with your child and really be there, attentive and engage! Find ways to connect to your child on their terms. Be a parent, not their best friend!”For more information on Child Abuse Prevention Month or resources available to Soldiers and families, visit Military One Source at https://www.militaryonesource.mil/.