FORT POLK, La. — The Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk’s top priority is the same as the U.S. Army’s — put people first. Taking care of Soldiers includes ensuring the Soldier’s Family (a Soldier’s main support network) are cared for as well. At JRTC and Fort Polk, several programs exist to do just that – take care of the people that are supporting Soldiers as they train or deploy to fight and win the nation’s wars.
One such program is the New Parent Support Program offered through Fort Polk’s Army Community Service and Family Advocacy Program.
The NPSP is a voluntary and intensive visitation-based prevention program for expecting parents or those with children up to three years of age.
Kristina England, ACS FAP manager, said that some of the services offered to parents through NPSP include lessons on basic newborn care, developmental milestones, feeding, sleep, soothing, potty training and more.
NPSP’s Baby Boot Camp Class can be offered in both group or one-on-one settings and is designed for new parents to learn about taking care of an infant after coming home from the hospital.
England explained that the term “new parent” isn’t exclusive to parents who are bringing home a baby for the first time; anyone bringing home a new baby (whether it be their first or third) is considered a “new parent.”
Another class covers what to expect during the first four months after bringing home a new baby. This class includes four weekly sessions where parents are given infant massage instruction, bonding with baby classes and information on transitional feeding, infant safety and development.
“The mission of NPSP is to promote resilient Families and healthy parenting attitudes and skills to prevent child neglect/abuse and domestic abuse. Our goal is to provide Families with the education, tools and necessary resources to successfully navigate the challenges of parenting,” England said.
NPSP also offers in-office, home-based or social-distanced visits, such as trips to community parks, libraries or pools.
“We also host a ‘Walks and Talks’ event every Wednesday morning at Honor Field. This is a chance for parents to have adult conversations and children get to socialize with peers,” England said.
As military-connected Families can often feel isolated from their extended families, NPSP is a needed resource to serve as a support network for new parents or as a conduit to help those Families connect with other new parents, bolstering their support networks here on the installation, she said.
“NPSP offers much needed support, connection and reassurance that parents are not alone. The first few years of becoming a parent can be tricky, and we help them find their way in parenting. Our parents receive non-judgmental support and encouragement from us,” she said.
If you’d like to learn more about NPSP, please call 531-9573/ 7040.