Parent Support Program builds resilient families

Reyna Levert, 56th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy nurse, demonstrates how to correctly swaddle a baby for new parents at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 17, 2018. Levert runs the New Parent Support Program designed to help expectant and new parents ease into the transition into parenthood.

Having children is a big change, especially if you’re not prepared.

To better assist this transition, the 56th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy team at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., has created the Parent Support Program, a free service offered to Airmen at Luke that provides education and support to new families.

“It’s an in-home visitation service,” said Reyna Levert, 56th Medical Operations Squadron family advocacy nurse. “It’s provided for active-duty members and their families who are expecting. The service is offered for all children to age 3.”

The program offers support for parents who want to build strong, healthy bonds and manage the demands of parenting while remaining flexible and responsive to military life.

“The program is important for families because we truly want to make sure our active-duty members always stay mission ready,” Levert said. “It’s very difficult for active-duty members to stay focused when they’re distracted with life concerns. We want to be able to supply comfort for families and let them know they have our full support.”

While the mission comes first, the Air Force is there to promote resilient military families through informational programs, play groups, parenting classes and printed resources.

“When providing services to new or expecting parents, it is such a very positive time in the family’s life,” said Margaret Walker, Air Force Family Advocacy Nursing and New Parent Support Program director. “Families are really open to information and support. Parents want to be the best they can be, which can be especially challenging for military families who are separated from their families and personal support systems.”

The program enrollment process begins with a questionnaire to support the needs of individual families.

“We want to tailor our program to your specific needs,” Levert said. “The questionnaire allows us the details we need to better assist individual families.”

After the questionnaire has been reviewed and Levert has met with the family on base, a home visitation can be scheduled.

“I usually visit from 30 to 60 minutes in the home twice a month to discuss topics of their choice,” Levert said. “Whatever questions or concerns they have, I’m there to give them on-site training on what to do in those situations.”

In addition to home visits, the program offers basic parenting classes, breastfeeding classes, couples community resources and Dad’s 101, a class to help dads feel comfortable handling a new baby.

“Our goal at Luke is to set families up for success,” Levert said. “Parenthood is the role families are least prepared for, but with proper guidance, they can succeed in caring for their children.

For more information, call Family Advocacy at 623-856-3147.

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