Got kids?

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Carolyn Herrick
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Kids: everybody loves them, but not everybody knows how to care for them.

That's why any military parent who is expecting a baby or with children up to 3 years old can have a trained, certified Family Advocacy Nurse make a home visit and teach them everything they could possibly want to know, from breastfeeding to home safety.

"It's like giving people their own personal nurse - someone they can bond with, who's there if they have questions or concerns," said Candi Hutchins, the new parent support nurse at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. "You can never have enough support when you have kids."

This service falls under the Family Advocacy Program here and is part of an Air Force-wide program that's been around since the late 1980s to help families and prevent neglect or maltreatment.

"The goal of the Family Advocacy Program is to keep families together," said Jerold Wiley, the FAP outreach manager. "We support active-duty members as well as their spouses, and we'll do whatever it takes - they're all part of our Holloman AFB team."

During home visits, Hutchins conducts developmental screenings, gives parents information on safety and infant care, DVDs, and pregnancy material, checks the home for any hazards, and provides resources on parenting, education, childcare, and finance - all tailored to the needs of each family she visits. No one has to take advantage of her services, but she's here for anyone who wishes to, whether it's their first child or their tenth.

"It can be hard for military families who don't always have family around," said Hutchins, who's been a nurse since 1994 and has managed prenatal and pediatric cases for 15 years for the state. "Our goal is to give them the kind of support they need and put them on the right track."

Hutchins also conducts classes for new parents. She recently hosted a stroller walk with about 12 moms and their children and plans to host the following upcoming classes:

· OB Orientation April 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Health and Wellness Center
· Mommy Boot Camp April 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Mental Health Clinic
· Dads 101 May 3 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mental Health Clinic

Hutchins says she does what she does because she loves it.

"I love being in a helping agency, because at the end of the day it's not about a paycheck - it's about knowing you helped someone," she said.

For more information, call Candi Hutchins at 572-7061 or look for events posted to the 49th Medical Group's official Facebook page.