Healthy Start Fatherhood Services Expanding to Okeechobee

Posted on January 17, 2023

Stuart, Fla. - Responsible, loving fathers who are positively involved in the lives of their children play a key role in bringing up successful, well-adjusted adults. For many fathers, it’s hard to do this on their own, and they may not have good role models in their own lives. Now, thanks to the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition, fathers in Okeechobee will soon have access to the services of the David Cardno Father and Child Resource Center right in their own community to help them be the best dads possible.

The Martin County Healthy Start Coalition’s mission is to ensure every baby is born healthy, every mother is supported, and every father is involved. The Father and Child Resource Center is part of Healthy Start’s family of services. “Our goal is to promote responsible fatherhood and provide resources to fathers regardless of family circumstances,” said Drew Gray, Director of Fatherhood Programs. “We believe, and research proves, that having fathers be a part of children’s lives, showing them love and giving them positive role models, strengthens both families and the wider community.”

The State of Florida agrees, passing a bill this year that enables the Healthy Start Coalition to hire two full-time fatherhood educators and expand its services into the Okeechobee community.

Services will include evidence-based parenting classes, support groups for fathers, and free legal consultations. These services will be offered in partnership with the Okeechobee Healthy Start Coalition.

The Father & Child Resource Center has been supported for many years by the Children’s Services Council of Martin County, the Hobe Sound Community Chest, and SouthState Bank. These generous funders continue to put their resources into this important and unique community program.

“The Father and Child Resource Center is a distinct and innovative program, not widely available anywhere else in the country. We’ve seen the tremendous results it achieves by involving fathers in positive ways in the lives of their children,” said Healthy Start Coalition CEO Samantha Suffich. “We’re encouraged that the State of Florida is making fatherhood a priority and eager to expand these programs and broaden our reach and impact.”

Healthy Start Coalition is seeking individuals to fill the two fatherhood education positions. Anyone who is interested should contact the organization at 772-463-2888 and through the website

About Martin County Healthy Start

Martin County Healthy Start is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that every baby is born healthy. It provides educational and health services to pregnant women, new mothers and their families at no cost, particularly expectant mothers who are at risk for late or no prenatal care. Part of a statewide coalition, Healthy Start connects pregnant women and young mothers with essential services including prenatal care, home visitations by a nurse or social worker, breastfeeding support, parenting education, car seat and sleeping safety, a free diaper pantry, and access to other community partner agencies through the Betty Moore Prenatal Outreach Center. The David Cardno Father and Child Resource Center, also part of the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition, helps fathers to become more involved in parenting and offers legal assistance to fathers who are separated from their children. The programs of Martin County Healthy Start Coalition are voluntary and available to all Florida residents at no cost. For more information about Martin County Healthy Start Coalition and its ongoing programs, visit, call 772-463-2888 or follow the organization on Facebook.