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Becoming a 24/7 Dad

Support group for fathers starts Sept. 11

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ
24/7 Dad, a free program for those residing in Marshall County, kicks off at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Tallcorn, 2 N. Second Ave. for men in all stages of fatherhood.

Men at all stages of fatherhood are welcome to enroll in 24/7 Dad, a free program for those residing in Marshall County.

The 11-week program kicks off at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Tallcorn, 2 N. Second Ave.

The sessions will be facilitated by David Hicks, director of Youth & Shelter Services (YSS) and Ron Eberline of Quakerdale, in partnership with Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS). Hicks and Eberline are licensed social workers with decades of experience.

“It’s a valuable resource for our community. There’s not a lot of opportunities for dads to get together for that support,” CAPS Director Linda Havelka said. “We want to give fathers the opportunity to be the best dads they can be.”

Topics explored will be:

• Discussing family history.

• Handling feelings.

• Health.

• Communication skills.

• Discipline.

• Childhood development.

• Work/life balance.

• Having a healthy partnership with the child’s mother.

Started in 2017, the program is offered one to two times a year based on funding. CAPS secured financial assistance 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.

“24/7 Dad is an important fatherhood initiative to dads of any age, whether you are co-parenting a toddler, trying to get a handle on the developmental and emotional needs of a teenager, or having to raise a grandchild,” Hicks said. “Dads within the group are a great resource to share successes, hold each other accountable, and to bring out the skills that are being taught.”

Eberline echoed a similar sentiment.

“We don’t want them to be left out of their children’s lives. We want them to have equal parenting duties alongside mothers,” he said.

Last year, two 24/7 Dad sessions were offered in Marshalltown and one in Hardin County. Eberline said the plan is to host another session next spring in Hardin County.

“It’s a wonderful, free program that doesn’t exist in a lot of communities in Iowa. Marshall County and Hardin County are really some of the few places.” he said.

Fathers will complete assignments in a workbook through the National Fatherhood Initiative that will help them learn how to nurture and work as a team with the child’s mother, all the while receiving moral support from the group’s facilitators and fellow participants.

“Their impact on raising a child is everlasting, so we hope to give fathers specific skills and concepts to be as successful as possible,” Hicks said.

Those who register will also enjoy a free meal before each session, beginning at 5:30 p.m., provided by local businesses.

To enroll, contact YSS of Marshall County at 641-752-2300 as space is limited.

The sessions will be held Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Tallcorn’s lower level, Sept. 11 through Nov. 20.

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