Child abuse prevention tops Family Advocacy agenda in April
By Robert Dozier
U.S. Army Installation Management Command
SAN ANTONIO (March 13, 2014) – The Army's Family Advocacy Program is making child abuse prevention the top agenda item for its service providers at garrisons and installations during the month of April.
The U.S. Army Installation Management Command is taking this opportunity to remind leaders, Soldiers and the Army community of the great work being done locally to preserve the health and well-being of our most valuable and vulnerable family members.
The theme of this year's campaign is "Children's safety comes first – be ready to end child abuse." IMCOM encourages each garrison to take the time in April to tell people about their local Family Advocacy Program, the class schedule, materials available and how to access counseling services.
"The president of the United States is calling on all of us – military and civilian, parents and non-parents – to unite in a common goal: to end the abuse of children," said Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, IMCOM commander. "I stand with the president and call upon you to make a commitment to this prevention effort in partnership with the Family Advocacy Program."
Child abuse prevention does not work if leadership focus only occurs one month in the year. For success to be achieved, the Army must first bring awareness to everyone and then follow up with great classes and counselors which deliver what it takes to succeed year-round.
"A vocal and vibrant campaign to end the abuse and maltreatment of children is still necessary in all of society," said Novella Magwood, Family Advocacy Program project officer. "The Army's Family Advocacy Program focuses on the prevention effort to maximize our returns. The children deserve our best efforts."
The congressionally-mandated program is intended to prevent and reduce the occurrence of family violence, while striving to create an environment of intolerance for such behavior.
"In today's fast-paced environment full of challenges and stresses, often it seems there is not enough time to pause long enough to reset the Family," said Col. Anthony L. Cox, Family Advocacy Program manager for the Army. "Family advocacy helps to head problems off before they escalate."
The program provides Soldiers and Family members early referral and intervention services for all types of domestic violence issues. The goal is to establish sufficient safety and risk-reduction plans, such as counseling services and parenting classes, to help the Army Family get the most out of their own talents and resources.
Services are available for parents of children at all ages. First-time moms and dads at a distant duty location can get advice as if the grandparents were on-call. Older parents can receive advice to help with the transition from pre-teen to young adult.
Soldiers and Family members are invited to learn more about the Family Advocacy Program at their garrison's Army Community Services facility. Participation in FAP services is stigma-free and is most effective when the family comes to the counselors early.
"Being a parent is one of the greatest experiences a young Soldier can have," said Ms. Magwood. "Our job is to make it a little better and a little easier."