London

New, culturally adapted program aims to better serve London's Muslim community

The Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration (MRCSSI) has launched a cross-culturally adapted version of the Caring Dads program to foster healthy fathering practices and help prevent family violence in a way that is specific to the experiences of Muslim fathers.
Mohammed Baobaid. the executive director of the MRCSSI, wanted to develop a program that took newcomer experiences and cultural differences into account. (Submitted by Mohammed Baobaid)

The Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration (MRCSSI) has launched a cross-culturally adapted version of the Caring Dads program to foster healthy fathering practices and help prevent family violence in a way that is specific to the experiences of Muslim fathers.

"The journey of an immigrant father is different," said Mohammed Baobaid, the executive director of the MRCSSI. 

For years, the MRCSSI has helped individuals and families overcome challenges that impact their wellbeing. However, when it came to providing resources that aimed to address family violence, they were running into a crucial issue: service providers were not taking migration experiences and cultural differences into account. 

"When you look at any family violence intervention programs, they're all developed in a Western context with an individualistic model, but many immigrants coming to Canada are coming from collective backgrounds," Baobaid said.  

For Baobaid, that was enough reason to create a program that took those differences into account in order to better serve the Muslim community. 

The culturally adapted version of the Caring Dads program will be available for people at the MRCSSI in the fall of 2019. (Submitted by Mohammed Baobaid)

Baobaid, alongside Dr. Katreena Scott, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's psychology department and one of the founders of Caring Dads, decided to adapt the original Caring Dads program to integrate the different lived experiences of Muslim fathers.

This version creates a space and opportunity to talk about pre-migration, migration, and post-migration experiences,- Katreena Scott, one of the founders of Caring Dads

"There's material to help fathers reflect on how they develop healthy father-child relationships, when their culture and their childhood was so much different than their child's experience here in Canada," she added.  

Part of the program's focus is addressing family violence including gender-based violence and the connections that exist between violence against women and a child's experience of that violence, whether as a victim or a witness. 

"In Caring Dads there's an understanding that part of being a good dad is also having a respectful and non-abusive co-parenting relationship with the child's mother," Scott said. 

The Caring Dads program consists of a 17-week group therapy program, in which 10-15 fathers get together with a facilitator and learn tools to change patterns of abuse, increase child-centred fathering and promote healthy relationships with the child's mother.   

Baobaid says the culturally adapted program will be available in the fall at the MRCSSI and will offer sessions in both English and Arabic. 

He hopes that in the future the adapted version of Caring Dads can expand to other Muslim communities across the country.