Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) began on October 1, 2003, as an Echelon II command under the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). CNIC is the main authority for installation management, which has a focus on the installation’s effectiveness and improvements to the installation management community's ability to sustain the Fleet, enable the Fighter and support the Family. Since 2005, Navy Family Readiness program management, implementation, execution and programming are under the direction of CNIC. This alignment has resulted in increased effectiveness, flexibility and responsiveness in program management and service delivery from the headquarters to the installation level. It has also ensured that program development and resourcing decisions are not separated from the practical realities of delivering ground-level support and responding to the challenges faced by Navy families.
The Navy's family support programs provide the highest visibility, advocacy and priority. In practical terms, this has resulted in increased services to family members, increased individual assistance and consultation, more varied educational programs, more proactive outreach, and a delivery of family support services in locations most conducive to family member engagement.
For more than 35 years, the Fleet and Family Support Program (FFSP) have supported individual and family readiness as well as the adaptation to life in the Navy for service members and their families. On July 16, 1979, the first Navy Family Service Center was officially opened in Norfolk, Virginia, with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Rear Adm. Richard E. Nicholson, commander, Naval Station Norfolk and Norfolk Mayor Vincent Thomas. The idea for the Navy Family Service Center (NFSC) grew out of the Family Awareness Conference held in Norfolk in November 1978. It became evident that a greater effort was needed to meet the needs of the Navy family. A task force was set up to explore how to meet this commitment to families under the leadership of Rear Adm. Nicholson. The concept of a centralized family location was developed, which was then quickly implemented with the opening of the Navy’s first Family Service Center on that sunny day of July 1979. The active duty (AD) staff provided 24-hour information and referral services, while a group of volunteers assisted with casework follow-up, financial counseling, child welfare liaison, relocation information, special assistance and family enrichment. The center also worked closely with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, American Red Cross, Ombudsmen, Navy Wives Organizations and commands.
Over the next decade, other areas of support programs were added. The staff transformed from an active duty and volunteer staff to a diverse mix of workers that included civilian service (GS), non-appropriated funds (NAF) and contract employees. In 2001, the name was changed from NFSC to Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) to emphasize that the center was for the Sailor and the family. In 2002, the FFSC's incorporate a new lighthouse logo and theme line: "Meeting Your Needs, At Home, At Sea." The new logo was designed to give the centers a uniform identity at naval bases around the globe. Today, this lighthouse logo still beacons the doors of centers worldwide.
The Fleet and Family Support Program (FFSP) headquarters (HQ) staff, who work at the Washington Navy Yard (WNY) in Washington, DC, develop innovative materials and curricula to ensure that Sailors and families consistently receive quality services across all Fleet and Family Support Centers (FFSCs), online and via webinars and social media. Staff manage the programs, policy, training, information and referral, individual clinical and non-clinical consultation and educational classes and workshops.
Military families of today now have the opportunity to go to any of the 81 service delivery sites worldwide with 58 sites delivering a full portfolio of programs and services. It is clear that the efforts of CNIC’s Fleet and Family Support Program and the FFSC has provided the right services at the right time to support Sailor and family resiliency to help them adapt to the unique challenges of the military lifestyle. Thank you to those Navy families’ foresight in 1978 and to Rear Adm. Nicholson's leadership in creating such an important resource for our Navy.