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contributed photos A new 24-7 DAD session will start on September 8th. The group is designed to help Marshall County dads overcome the challenges of fatherhood.

A new session of 24-7 DAD, a free 11-week group designed to help Marshall County fathers face the challenges of fatherhood, will begin on September 8.

David Hicks of YSS of Marshall County and Ron Eberline of Center Associates are the group leaders. Hicks said 24-7 DAD is a national organization that helps new dads.

“24-7 DAD is a national science-based program that we follow. It contains chapters with specific topics, activities and talking points to encourage dialogue, discovery and growth ”, Hicks said. “We use their life experience to understand how they see and practice parenting, discuss other options, and guide them to what can work – and what doesn’t. We don’t tell them what to do or impose our beliefs on them, as much of this class is self-discovery education.

Hicks said fatherhood initiatives and parenting support were identified as a community gap many years ago and he and Eberline have teamed up to fill that need. Eberline has facilitated DAD 24-7 for the past six years in Marshall and Hardin counties, and has led the group with Hicks for the past four years.

The group covers topics such as learning what it takes to become a good role model for your child, exploring ways to improve communication with your child and other family members, learning to effective parenting practices and learning skills to help manage co-parenting situations. Hicks and Eberline said they believe the group is important and necessary.

“There are very few support groups for fathers, if any,” Hicks said. “There should always be opportunities for men / fathers to become better versions of themselves, to acquire applicable skills to build their self-confidence and to increase their understanding of their impact on their own (s). child (ren). “

The group seeks to help fathers better understand their children and better co-parenting.

“This group can help fathers to understand the development of the child, to know the expectations of their children according to their age and to be able to co-parent effectively in the event of divorce or separation from the mother”, Hicks said.

He said men can find it difficult to admit they need help, and the group’s discussions can help fathers learn new approaches and practices in a friendly environment.

“Parenting doesn’t stop at age 18 – it’s a lifelong commitment. Men are often too proud to admit they need help or ask for help ”, Hicks said, “Through our discussions and activities, fathers can learn new approaches and practices through a better understanding of how they were brought up. Sharing a meal before the group creates a very friendly environment for men to talk without judgment. “

Eberline said the group is looking to help the central Iowa community. Hicks and Eberline said the 24-7 DAD support group typically sees around three to eight men in each group.

“In the previous groups we have had brand new fathers, fathers trying to reconnect with their children after an absence, men becoming stepfathers and a few grandfathers now having to raise their grandchildren. Hicks said. “We’ve had fathers who just wanted to learn as much as they could, especially when the kids were growing up to be teenagers!

He hopes the men can walk out of the group confident in their parenting skills.

“Although no parent is perfect, knowledge is power” Hicks said. “Fatherhood is the one job that almost all men feel absolutely unqualified for, but we do it anyway. We want them to be good co-parents and understand how influential they are with their children.

Eberline hopes that the family life of the fathers who attend the 24-7 group will be impacted for the better.

“Fewer incidents of domestic violence, fewer incidents of child abuse and neglect, and improved father-child relationships and co-parenting with mothers of children” he said. “This has been accomplished with many fathers over the years. “

24-7 DAD is a collaborative Child Abuse Prevention Services project and is funded by the Marshall and Hardin County Community Partnerships for Child Protection (CPPC) and community donations. .

Fathers interested in the program should call Marshalltown YSS at 641-752-2300 or go to YSS.com.

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Contact Marquetta Evans at 641-753-6611 or [email protected]

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