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County Program Helps Dads Be Better Parents
County Agency seeking to spread Developing Assertive Dad Skills (DADS) into community
New fathers from the Huber Center in the area have an opportunity to become better parents, through a program sponsored by the Outagamie County Child Support Agency (CSA). The Outagamie CSA reports tremendous success of their skills-building program for new fathers called Developing Assertive Dad Skills or DADS.
"Thanks to the DADS program, many non-custodial fathers can get valuable parenting skills and increase contact with their children," said Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Jennifer Reinert. "The Outagamie County CSA should be commended for acquiring skilled volunteers from the community to provide a valuable program at no cost to taxpayers. This is an exceptional opportunity for residents who may need support in adjusting to being a parent."
A survey in 1999 of adjudicated fathers assessed the barriers these dads encountered as they faced parental responsibilities. Then, in early 2000, the Outagamie County CSA staff recruited a committee to develop the program for fathers based on the survey responses.
"The committee found the first major hurdle would be recruiting participants and maintaining their interest long enough to have an impact on their new families," said Ina Anderson, Outagamie County CSA Specialist. "We selected Huber program volunteers, men aged 17 to 40, who were fathers interested in building relationships with their children by increasing their parenting skills. Each volunteer also expressed their expectations and goals of the program."
In the Huber program, offenders work at their jobs during the day and report back to the jail for the evening. During the development of the DADS program, the CSA negotiated with the local sheriff’s department to hold hour and a half evening sessions for ten weeks outside the jail. Two ten week sessions have been held and Anderson credits much of the success of the program to the cooperation of the sheriff’s department to acquire program volunteers.
To date, 14 fathers with children ranging in age from newborns to college-graduates have participated in the program. A Huber program resource specialist screens program applicants and selected volunteers must have specific goals for the program and a willingness to actively participate.
The DADS program offers sessions on anger management, positive parenting, financial management and career planning, child development, father’s rights and responsibilities and improving communication skills. Professionals in the community volunteer to provide specific training skills and discussion topics.
"Nearly all of the volunteer teachers agreed to continue with the program because of their positive first experience," said Anderson.
Participant feedback from the program indicates an overwhelming willingness to learn better parenting skills and improve parent-child relationships. The Outagamie County CSA eventually hopes to expand the program beyond the Huber operation and make it available to the entire community. Anderson said surrounding county agencies have already inquired about developing their own parenting programs. The next group of Outagamie participants will begin classes in the Fall.
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Editors NOTE: Past program participants are available for personal interviews (audio and visual) by calling Ina Anderson, Child Support Specialist, Outagamie County Health & Human Services at (920) 993-3112 (direct), (920) 832-5058 (office) or fax (920) 832-1545. She may also be reached via e-mail at email@example.com
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Content Contact: Teresa Weidemann-Smith