Buddy, a client of archdiocesan Catholic Social Services’ Bucks County Family Service Center, shows off a gift basket of child and baby items he received as part of CSS’s broad array of support for parents and their children. (Facebook/Catholic Social Services Bucks County Family Service Center)

If being a father has you feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to ask for help, says an archdiocesan social worker – and her agency has plenty of support to offer.

“We have seen dads, unsure of their skills or where to turn for help, develop more confidence in their role,” said Maritherese Mitchell, administrator of the archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS) Bucks County Family Service Center in Levittown.

The site, one of several operated by CSS throughout the five-county archdiocesan area, offers a broad array of support for children and parents – and that includes fathers, said Mitchell.

Diapers, food, community baby showers and benefits counseling are all part of the “material, financial and nutritional assistance” the CSS centers provide, she said.

For dads-to-be, there are “weekly prenatal education classes and biweekly special events,” Mitchell said, adding the sessions cover critical issues such as car seat safety and proper techniques for bathing newborns.

While devastating, the COVID pandemic “provided opportunities for dads to support their families in many ways,” she noted.

Lack of or decreased employment enabled more fathers to visit CSS sites, while also allowing them to participate in the centers’ expanded schedules of online parenting classes, said Mitchell.

By availing themselves of CSS’ resources, “dads experience an increase in confidence utilizing new and improved parenting skills,” she said.

After the challenges of the past year and a half, fathers need “reassurance that everything will be OK, and that the community is here to support them and their families as best we can,” said Mitchell.

She and her colleagues understand that asking for help has an “enormous impact” on a dad.

“CSS staff focus on creating an environment that is non-judgmental and supportive, and maintains the dignity and integrity of those they serve,” said Mitchell.

She added that when men are secure in their roles as fathers, families and communities thrive.

“What can be better than that?” she said.