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Photo Caption:  Family member Veronica Hawthorne scans a Family Readiness Group calendar before an FRG meeting Thursday. FRGs are command-sponsored organizations of Family members, volunteers, Soldiers and civilian employees and are established to enhance the well-being within a unit.

January 16, 2014
Titus Ledbetter III, Belvoir Eagle

Army Community Service officials on Fort Belvoir urged people to register for New Parent Support Program classes to prevent them from being discontinued due to lack of participation.

The program provides support services for military Families with a pregnant mother or a child that is three-years-old or younger, according to Sonja Foots, NPSP home visitor. She talked about the program Thursday during a monthly Family Readiness Group roundtable.

One of the classes within the program that Foots highlighted is Dads 101, a one-day workshop that helps fathers understand the joys and challenges of being a father. The next two Dads 101 classes are from 9 a.m. to noon, Feb. 20 and April 24, at the ACS building.

"We know when we have active fathers in the child's life, (the children) have higher self-esteem, usually do better academically and they are financially better off," Foots said. "So we want to encourage dads to take an active role."

NPSP is offered under the Family Advocacy division of ACS. The program's staff consists of a team of nurses and social workers who provide support and education. The voluntary program was developed to perform services that friends or Family members would typically provide, free of charge. Staff members offer classes and also make home visits to help military Families.

The purpose of the FRG roundtable is to give group members information about the location of events, as well as tips and resources. FRG leaders hear about the concerns of military Families and take them to unit commanders. In addition, unit commanders can pass information important to the Families back to them through FRG leaders. The FRG also helps military Families in times of crisis.

NPSP staff members provide incredible opportunities, according to Carol Janer, FRG program leader.

"I think they are awesome," she said. "Again, they have so much to offer and most people don't understand that or they think that it is only for a specific group, like 'At-risk-parents' or something, and it is not. (NPSP) is for everybody."

NPSP also offers an infant massage class at the ACS building. The three-day class is Jan. 9, 16 and 23, as well as March 6, 13, and 20. The class promotes bonding and teaches parents some ways to calm their babies, Foots said. The act of giving a massage releases chemicals that can reduce stress and the class is geared towards babies who have not yet begun to crawl.

The Play Morning class, sponsored Tuesdays at the ACS building from 10 a.m. to noon, is one of the most popular classes that NPSP offers, Foots said. It gives mothers, fathers and children an opportunity to come together to play in a group setting. The event features toys and the children can play together or with Family. The age range for this event has expanded to children five-years-old and younger.

Veronica Hawthorne, FRG leader for Headquarters, Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, said Foots did a great job describing all of the services that NPSP has to offer. She was not aware of some of the classes and she looks forward to telling other FRG leaders about them.
For more information on NPSP, contact Foots by phone at (703) 805-4547 or by email at