Father’s Day may have come and gone, but there are some dads who are still going the extra mile.
The Fatherhood Program for Child Development Resources is hosting its fourth iteration in Williamsburg of the 24/7 Dad Workshop, which is a 24-hour workshop series that teach dads varying aspects about fatherhood and childcare.
But that’s not the second time the organization has run the program, said Amy Bornhoft, president. Approximately 15 years ago, CDR started the program at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail where Bornhoft said there was a real desire from inmates to learn these skills and be the best fathers possible to their children. Approximately five years ago they added a workforce development and economic stability aspect.
“At the end [of the series] we have a family night, and at [VPRJ] it’s something really special,” she said. “For some of these dads, it might be the first time they have seen or even touched their child.”
Since then, the program has also moved to the Newport News Jail and now to Williamsburg for the general public.
Bornhoft said the course for the inmates is the same as the one offered for the general public. With eight to 10 people in each session, fathers can learn about basic child care and aspects of parenting from the male perspective.
For example, Bornhoft said fathers are more likely to “rough-house” with their child, which teaches children about risk but also about boundaries.
“Dads parent differently in some of the activities they do with kids,” she said. “A lot of dads do sporting activities, which teaches leadership and team building. It’s not that moms don’t teach that, but it’s more geared toward the father role.”
The classes also address parenting factors that don’t directly involve the parent-child relationship, such as workforce placement and case management. For the local classes, Bornhoft said the goal is to get as many fathers as possible to join so sometimes the program offers bus tickets, gas cards or child care for those who need someone to watch their children during the classes.
While the Fatherhood Program has been in operation for more than a decade, the 24/7 Dads course is a new way to not only help fathers learn, but also to form a community of support around each other.
The program also brings in a “fatherhood consultant” who works in partnership with the organization’s family consultant to find ways to educate and empower fathers as a force of positivity in a child’s life, according to the program’s website.
In addition to the 24/7 Dads program, CDR also offers a Rookie Dads program that trains soon-to-be fathers about the care of a new baby.
Those classes reflect a shift in society, she said, as fathers take a more active role in their children’s lives. More frequently now, fathers and mothers are acting both as provider and caretaker, with more women entering the workforce and more fathers taking on childcare.
But, Bornhoft said, it can be tougher for fathers when it comes to learning about parenting because there are a lot fewer resources than there are for mothers.
“I think we have so many different resources for moms because moms have been primarily noted as the primary caregiver,” she said. “Now we’ve noticed dads are the primary caregiver and they parent differently, so being able to gear resources towards dads reinforces that dads are as effective as a mother is important.”
The 24/7 Dads program is free and open to the public. The next information session is Aug. 19 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 210 Packets Court. For more information, visit CDR’s fatherhood resources page online.