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Helping fathers be better dads
among Center for Families goals

A program developed by the Center for Families to help young Indiana fathers become good dads has grown into a national success.

It's My Child, Too, a parenting curriculum aimed at young, unwed fathers, is administered by the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.

Developed in 1994, the program is now being used by schools, community centers and detention centers in 22 states.

"The goal of the program is for young fathers to recognize the important role they play in the lives of their children," says Aadron Rausch, extension specialist and assistant director of the Center for Families.

"We have found that fathers are more likely to be involved with their children if they feel supported in their parenting role and if they feel confident in their parenting abilities," she says.

The program is used largely by the court system for young fathers who are delinquent in paying child support, but also has developed into a fathering course for any young dad.

Curt Emanuel, an extension educator in Clinton County in Indiana, says many of the young fathers he sees are involved in unpleasant situations with the mothers of their children.

"Many times, these guys are the forgotten parent," Emanuel says. "They may have been told they are losers, and many of them don't have anyone to talk to.

"They come to us and talk, and they learn things they've never learned about children. We tell them they're valuable people, that they can be valuable to their children. In general, they get a lot out of the program and hopefully go back and get involved with their children in a positive manner."

It's My Child, Too addresses normal childhood behaviors and ways of dealing with them, Rausch says.

"We need to help fathers who don't have experience with babies or children understand their children," she says.

Michael Gotsch, past president of the Indiana Child Support Alliance and deputy prosecuting attorney in St. Joseph County in Indiana, says programs like It's My Child, Too can help strengthen families.

"It's my hope that fathers will bond with their children, and that these young families will eventually come together as one," he says.

Story by Julie Rosa

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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