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    New Parent Support Program is helping families thrive

    New Parent Support Program is helping families thrive

    Photo By Eve Baker | Dawn Chavez, a registered nurse with the New Parent Support Program at Fort...... read more read more



    Story by Eve Baker 

    Fort Wainwright Public Affairs Office

    FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – For military families who are separated from extended family, parenthood can be extra challenging. The remoteness of Alaska and the extended darkness and extreme cold of winter can add additional hardship.

    However, the New Parent Support Program at Fort Wainwright is helping military families thrive. Through its registered nurses and social workers, the program provides home visits to new parents, classes on different aspects of parenting and play groups for parents and young children to socialize with each other.

    Dawn Chavez, a former labor and delivery nurse, is one of the NPSP nurses who interact directly with families.

    “I go in and do home visits with our families who have children from the time they find out they’re pregnant until the time that their children are three,” she said. “I also run a play group that’s here on base.”

    The Grow and Giggle Play Group meets twice per week for two hours during the morning at the Last Frontier Community Activity Center on Fort Wainwright. The group is designed for parents with children ages 0-5, though older siblings are welcome, and provides a welcoming environment for parents and young families to socialize through structured activities and free-play opportunities.

    The NPSP recently began hosting an infant feeding support group as well.

    “We centered it around anyone who needs support in feeding their child,” Chavez said, “whether it’s breastfeeding or bottle feeding or even introducing solid foods. There is something like that off base but nothing like it on base, so we wanted to have a group for our military families.”

    The group meets twice per month for two hours and enables new parents to relax in the comfortable, overstuffed couches and chairs of the LFCAC’s quiet room and speak with NPSP staff and other parents about feeding concerns.

    Army spouse Catherine Carlton attended the second session of the group based on previous positive interactions she had had with Chavez.

    “Miss Dawn has always shown really great support in the Grow and Giggle Play Group with my little one,” Carlton said, “so when she told me about the feeding group, I had to come check it out.”

    After staying for an hour and interacting with Chavez and other attendees, Carlton said she would definitely attend again and recommend the group to other military families.

    In addition to the feeding support group, another new group activity the program started this year is a monthly book club called Books and Babies. While the adults discuss books that focus on parenthood, young children can play in the indoor playground of the North Haven Community Center and enjoy healthy snacks.

    The groups and classes enable the NPSP staff to reach a larger number of people at once and provide a venue for new parents to meet other adults experiencing the same circumstances they are. However, it is the home visits that make up the bulk of the work for the staff and seem to have the most significant impact on the families.

    In the words of one Army spouse, shared via an Interactive Customer Evaluation comment, NPSP nurse Dawn Chavez “has been nothing but a huge blessing to me and my family…She goes above and beyond with everything she does, and I’m always amazed at how she does it all.”



    Date Taken: 10.11.2023
    Date Posted: 10.11.2023 15:15
    Story ID: 455541
    Location: FAIRBANKS, AK, US

    Web Views: 140
    Downloads: 0