Coffs Coast Advocate

Program aims to help rookie fathers

UNITING Care Burnside runs an 'I'm A Dad Program' to help new dad's through the trials of fatherhood.

The program is funded by the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in partnership with North Coast Area Health Service, and aims to increase new fathers' knowledge and parenting skills, encourage sharing of parenting roles and responsibilities within families, facilitate access to and awareness of relevant community support services, to assist in the development of networking between first-time parents, and to promote awareness of importance of father-inclusive practices in local services.

The program was started in Coffs Harbour by Tony White eight years ago.

An I'm A Dad family worker is available to be contacted to assist first-time dads prior to birth or in weeks just after, and they can make referrals to Coffs Harbour Family Support Service family worker fathers or to other community and health services as appropriate.

Before the birth, the I'm A Dad family worker, in conjunction with health educators, facilitates antenatal classes. They also address specific father issues such as coping with changes, supporting their partner and connecting with their newborns.

Once the child is born, first-time fathers are given an 'I'm A Dad Bag'. The bag includes father-specific support literature, a Parentalk newsletter, gifts for dad, mum and the baby, Let's Read starter pack and information about available support services.

The program also provides follow-up calls.

Antenatal class reunion lunches are for parents with their new babies. These are used as a networking and follow-up opportunity hosted by I'm A Dad/Let's Read staff around six weeks after birth of their baby.

For more information, contact Glen O'Hara on 6651 7961 or 0427 928 848.

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