Becoming a ‘24/7 Dad’

New support group for fathers starts April 4

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ
Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS) has just launched an 11-week-long free support group for fathers called “24/7 Dad” said CAPS Executive Director Jana Enfield, center. The sessions will be held every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at The Tallcorn, beginning April 4. Facilitators will be, left to right: Ron Eberline, David Hicks and Luis Sanchez.

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS) has just launched an 11-week-long free support group for fathers called “24/7 Dad” said CAPS Executive Director Jana Enfield, center. The sessions will be held every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at The Tallcorn, beginning April 4. Facilitators will be, left to right: Ron Eberline, David Hicks and Luis Sanchez.

Learning communication techniques; exploring ways to enhance father/child bonding time; sharing experiences about the triumphs and pitfalls of fatherhood. These and more topics will be explored in the new free “24/7 Dad” support group, to be held every Tuesday night for 11 weeks, starting on April 4, sponsored by Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS), in partnership with other local agencies.

“A diverse group of people make up a local shared decision-making team, where we did a needs assessment, determining a program for fathers was needed in Marshall County,” said CAPS Executive Director Jana Enfield.

The sessions will be facilitated by Luis Sanchez of Life Connections in Marshalltown, David Hicks, director of Youth & Shelter Services (YSS) in Marshalltown and Ron Eberline. Hicks and Eberline are both certified counselors and social workers. All three men are fathers. Sanchez led a similar father-focused program in the past through MICA (Mid-Iowa Community Action). MICA in turn supplied CAPS with the curriculum materials.

The curriculum “24/7 Dad” was developed by the National Fatherhood Initiative, its mission being to “create a world in which every child has a 24/7 dad” with the aim of “transforming organizations and communities by equipping them to intentionally and proactively engage fathers in their children’s lives.”

CAPS secured funding for the support group through a “decategorization” system run by the State of Iowa, that seeks to assign funding to fill in gaps in human services.

The sessions will be held Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. in the basement conference room of The Tallcorn, located at 2 N. 2nd Ave in Marshalltown. There will be two facilitators at every session.

“Dads of all ages with kids of all ages are welcome,” Sanchez said. “We will tailor the conversations around what participants’ needs are, using the ’24/7 Dad’ book as a guide.”

At 6 p.m. each evening, a free meal will be served to participants. CAPS and YSS are covering the cost of the meals for the first two sessions, but will need assistance in paying for the meals for the remaining sessions. They estimate 10-15 men will participate in each session.

“The grant we received covers the cost of paying staff, but we need groups, clubs and/or churches to help us cover the cost of the meals,” Enfield said. “We are also accepting monetary donations, which will be used by our facilitators to go out and purchase men’s personal care items and activities fathers can do with their kids, to be given to the men who participate in the support group.”

If the support group proves successful, and CAPS is able to secure more funding, the plan is to continue the program in July, also offering it in Spanish.

Participants are asked to attend all 11 sessions, but it is not a requirement. Registration, however, is required by April 3, by calling YSS at 641-752-2300. The free meal will only be for those who register before the deadline.

Donations can be made directly to CAPS, specifying the “24/7 Dad” group, sent to its office at: 811 E. Main St. in Marshalltown. To learn more, contact Enfield at 641-752-1730.

To learn more about the National Fatherhood Initiative, visit: fatherhood.org