Families Network Wants To Support ‘Nurturing Fathers’

Families Network of Western CT is a nonprofit organization in Danbury that is offering a fatherhood education series called Nurturing Fathers.

Joel Levitt, fatherhood engagement specialist at Families Network of Western CT, shared, “Everything we do at Families Network centers on the health and well-being of children, so we offer no-cost parent education and support.”

When Families Network of Western CT found that fathers were generally being underserved by social services, compared to mothers, it created additional programming that specifically focused on fathers.

“It’s been shown that improving men’s fathering skills is a benefit to moms as well … Having parents get along and respect each other, even though they may have had a negative history, if they can agree to put that aside and work with each other for the betterment of their children, it’s a win-win all the way around,” Levitt said.

Nurturing Fathers is a 13-week program that begins Tuesday, March 29, and runs through June. It takes place each Tuesday from 6 to 8:30 pm at The Joy Center, 264 Main Street in Danbury. A light dinner is served.

Fathers, as well as fathers-to-be, stepfathers, grandfathers, and father figures are all welcome to attend the program.

Levitt shared, “The youngest dads I ever had when I facilitated the program prior to the pandemic were 17-year-olds and the oldest was a gentleman in his 50s. It’s very diverse.”

To receive a certificate of completion, participants should attend a minimum of 10 out of 13 classes.

“We hope that they will come for all — and many do — but we recognize that people have family obligations and there are people who work on a rotating schedule. We are hopeful people will stay with it for the full extent of the program because that is how you get the most benefit.” Levitt said.

The spring session will be led by Fatherhood Education Facilitator Bill Donaldson, who also previously taught the most recent winter session.

According to Levitt, Nurturing Fathers “is an evidence-based, curriculum-based program, so there is a syllabus. A couple of topics that we cover are relating to feelings, communication/conflict resolution, teamwork/co-parenting, and balancing time, work, and parenting.”

The program wraps up with a graduation dinner where fathers in the past have made speeches about the progress they made and the plans they have for the future with their children.

Families Network of Western CT’s fatherhood education series — as well as all its services — is free of charge.

“We are a no fee agency,” Levitt said. “We don’t charge for anything that we do.”

The nonprofit operates through grants and relies on donations.

To participate in the Nurturing Fathers program, individuals must register prior to the start of the first class on March 29. To sign up, call the Families Network of Western CT office at 203-791-8773.

For more information about the Nurturing Fathers program or to become a fatherhood educator, e-mail Joel Levitt at jlevitt@fnwc.org.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

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