LANDSTUHL, Germany - The Army Family Advocacy Program is the Army’s prevention and response program for domestic violence, child abuse and neglect.
At Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the FAP program has three goals: Prevent abuse and neglect by providing a variety of services to strengthen Army families and enhance their ability to adapt to military life; Protect those who are victims of abuse and neglect. Preserve families without compromising the health, welfare, and safety of victims; and TREAT families affected by abuse and neglect.
“The LRMC Family Advocacy Program provides assessment, clinical intervention, and treatment for families experiencing spouse/intimate partner violence and child abuse/neglect,” said Louann Engle, chief of the Family Advocacy Program – Clinical, at LRMC. “The focus of FAP is on family preservation. We provide preventive interventions such as focused parenting, psycho-educational communication, and relationship skills counseling (individual, couple, and family) with the goal of improving family relationships.”
According to Army Regulation 608-18, which governs the intent and functions of the program, FAP is designed to break the cycle of abuse by identifying abuse as early as possible and providing treatment for affected Family members.
“We are not law enforcement, baby snatchers, home wreckers or career demolitionists,” explains Engle.
In fact, FAP’s mission is the opposite of those misperceptions.
Family violence is a threat to the health, welfare and safety of Soldiers and Family members, and it severely degrades warfighter readiness. The Army Family Advocacy Program helps strengthen Army Families, enhancing resiliency and relationship skills, improving quality of life.
The program is divided into prevention and treatment departments which fall under the purview of Army Community Services and local behavioral health departments, respectively.
The program was first launched by the Army in 1967 and became mandatory across the Department of Defense by 1981. FAP is currently broadening command and community engagement to prevent and respond to domestic violence and child abuse. Through various efforts, including: Engaging parents, schools and youth programs, safe sleep education for newborns, and expanding command roles and responsibilities in the Army’s incident determination process.
“By voluntarily accessing FAP services early, families and intimate partners can avail themselves of FAP’s preventive intervention through skills counseling which can often mitigate the issues that often preclude family violence,” said Engle.
While Engle notes there is often increased family discord during any significant change, LRMC FAP has not had such an increase in referrals during COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.
“(COVID-19) really has not impacted clinical services. We have clinicians tele-working and clinicians in the office,” said Engle. “FAP continues to have almost immediate access to care meaning in most cases a person can be seen the same day they request services, and certainly within 24 to 48 hours.
“While COVID-19 restrictions required us all to transition to a “new normal”, we feel this provides families new ways to work together and discover their inner resilience,” adds Engle. “This is also an opportunity for families to really get to know each other on a deeper level. With parents running to work and children at school and care facilities, families often find themselves too tired or stressed to really communicate. We sincerely hope that families are melding as stronger, more resilient units which will serve them well in the future.”