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Teaching the skills of fatherhood: innovative Barnstable County program celebrates 25 years

A local program that helps fathers rebuild relationships with their kids held an event ahead of Father’s Day weekend.

The Barnstable County Fatherhood Program helps dads reconnect with children through a 12-week course that features talks on topics like child development and communication.

The program, which is the longest continually-running one in the state, held its 25th annual graduation event on Tuesday, June 13 ahead of Father's Day.

The program is through the Massachusetts Probation Service.

Some fathers are ordered to attend by local courts as part of their probation, while others are referred by probation officers.

The course focuses on teaching dads to give kids affection and gentle guidance. It also emphasizes respecting a child’s mother and providing financial support.

Wayne Chase is Chief Probation Officer of Orleans District Court and is a longtime facilitator of the program.

He said fathers at the recent graduation spoke about how they’ve been putting the principles they learned in the program to use.

“Some of these guys in the group, they didn’t have much of a chance - they were never really taught what a father does or how to do it. So it’s a great opportunity for them, and they really want it," he said.

Chase also gave remarks at the event and told the eight graduating fathers being a parent is the most important job there is.

“It’s the only way you keep these families together and you’re going to have children prosper, is if you’re being the best father, and teacher, and guidance person you can be in your life.”

About 300 fathers have graduated the Barnstable County program over the years.

Chase also helped launch a Motherhood program in the county four years ago.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.