The Fatherhood Quality Mark: a new badge of excellence for working with fathers

2 July 2007


1. Background

Fathers Direct’s Fatherhood Quality Mark (FQM) is a new tool to help agencies develop services which effectively engage with and support fathers, based on evidence from research. The FQM has grown out of a two-year consultation process developing standards for father-friendly practice. These were first summarised in FD’s Working with Fathers: a guide for everyone working with families launched at the first national ‘Working with Fathers’ Conference in April 2004. The FQM was launched in April 2005 at FD’s second national ‘Working with Fathers’ Conference.

2. What is the Fatherhood Quality Mark?

The Fatherhood Quality Mark (FQM) is an award for agencies – or services within an agency – demonstrating good practice in working with fathers . It is designed to translate the growing awareness about the important roles fathers play in children’s lives into practical policies and services. Father-friendly services are defined in the FQM in relation to children’s welfare – they are services which take fully into account the impact of fathers on children’s lives, and are firmly based on evidence about local needs.

All the bodies that achieve an FQM will have in place policies and practices which strengthen positive father-child relationships, and situate concern for, and valuing of, positive father-child relationships in the mainstream of their work. Fathers are welcomed in as appropriate, and professionals ‘keep dads in mind’ when working with all individuals, families and other agencies. The FQM is responsive to the issues faced by each service or agency, and requires agencies to develop realistic, achievable goals in relation to working with fathers. Working through the quality mark process will be relevant both to workforce development (recruitment, training, supervision etc.) and to practice development.

Any agency that works with children, young people and families can apply, including Teenage Pregnancy Units and other local authority services, health services, voluntary sector agencies etc. We have received a lot of interest about the FQM from all these sectors, and several agencies are already working towards it.
Fathers Direct offers assistance to agencies working towards the FQM, including:
• roundtables to help local managers plan and develop services that engage systematically and effectively with fathers (more details below)
• mentoring for your agency from an experienced advisor (more details below)
• a toolkit for developing services, including checklists of policies and procedures, our Working With Fathers practice guide, case studies, tips and strategies, and a self-assesment tool
• accredited training courses
• information and resources for services to give to fathers

3. Why is the FQM Important?

Agencies which receive the FQM will have shown they have:

• achieved high quality services which support positive father-child relationships;

• fulfilled key Government policy objectives about engaging with fathers, including those in the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (DfES, DoH, 2004); in the Children’s Centre Guidance (Sure Start, 2003); and in the strategy on Teenage Pregnancy (Social Exclusion Unit, 1999). The Minister for Children, Beverley Hughes, wants good practice in engaging with fathers to be mainstreamed throughout publicly funded programmes.

• met forthcoming statutory obligations about equal treatment of men and women in public service provision (which will be in the Equality Bill, expected to become law in 2006)

• demonstrated these achievements publicly to all stakeholders: to local communities, other local agencies, senior management, Government, actual and potential funders.

4. Who is the FQM for?

The FQM is aimed at any body that works with children and families, including local authorities and health services. Some children’s centres have already started the process, and teenage pregnancy teams, other statutory services, and some large/medium sized charities, are showing keen interest.

The FQM is flexible and is designed to be responsive to the issues faced by different sectors, agencies and services. So, while a non-negotiable aspect is to take account of father-child relationships in everything attracting the FQM, the process will incorporate a plan which takes account of the priorities of the body seeking quality recognition.

5. The FQM Assessment Process

Before an agency or service is assessed, a Fathers Direct Assessor will visit and, in consultation with the Client, identify key issues for the assessment and plan the process. Issues for consideration will include: who will the Assessor interview – managers, workers, volunteers, service users, other stakeholders. What will s/he be trying to find out? To what extent will questionnaires and other written assessment tools be used? Will the interviews be done one-to-one or in ‘focus’ groups?

The assessment itself will be both portfolio and interview/focus group based. It will involve one or more on-site visits by the Assessor, followed by a written Assessment Report. When the period for which the FQM is valid expires, the process must be engaged in again to retain FQM status, although this is likely to be a much less complicated process.

The length, complexity, and costs, of the FQM Assessment will vary according to the size of the agency or service being assessed.

6. Leadership Roundtables

These roundtables are small, focussed one-day meetings, tailor-made to help local managers of agencies working with children, young people and families (including teenage pregnancy services) plan and develop services that engage systematically and effectively with fathers, fathers-to-be and young men. They are designed to foster local leadership to implement the strengthening national agenda around fatherhood, and build on local good practice.

The roundtables explore how to promote positive change in supporting fathers, involve all stakeholders, and plan next steps. They will look particularly at how achieving the FQM can help agencies meet their core objectives. Attendees will receive practical guidance and handouts on how to engage with fathers, and there will be an opportunity to view and discuss new materials that services can give to fathers. Wherever possible, the Roundtables will involve local agencies already offering good practice in working with fathers, so that useful local links can be forged and strengthened.

We can create a Roundtable in partnership with you and other local agencies if there is sufficient interest in your area.

We also run programmes of Roundtables across the country at certain times:  to find out more go to


7. Mentoring

Fathers Direct also offers mentoring from an experienced advisor to help agencies develop their work with fathers in relation to the FQM criteria. The first step is normally a face to face session on site with key managers and staff, at which there is an initial review of current practices and policies. The advisor can stay involved with the agency as appropriate, offering support as the agency develops its strategies. This can involve coaching for managers and staff, whole team training, and signposting to other resources.

8. Next Steps

If you would like to book, or find out more about, the Roundtables, please email David Bartlett at or phone him on 01422 847825.

For more information on other aspects of the FQM, please phone 0845 634 1328.

1. Values BaseA Father Friendly Service will be fully committed to improving children’s welfare by promoting strong, positive relationships between fathers and children. 1.1 The service is committed to promoting strong, positive relationships between fathers and children.1.2 The service has adopted clear, specific objectives concerning positive father involvement, which are understood by workers at all levels, volunteers and service users. Fathers Direct will provide easy to use assessment tools to enable agencies to provide evidence that each indicator is in place.
2. Evidence BaseA Father Friendly Service is grounded in evidence about the diverse impact of fathers on children’s lives, and knowledge of the roles, experiences and needs of local fathers. 2.1 Management and workers at all levels are kept informed about research on fathers’ roles in family life, and their impact on children.2.2 The service conducts regular, inclusive consultations /
surveys with local fathers and their families, about fathers’ needs, experiences and aspirations.

2.3 The service systematically gathers information from other local agencies and community groups about the roles, experiences and needs of local fathers.

2.4 Monitoring and evaluation procedures are designed to gather information about how fathers and their families value the service as a support to fathers’ relationships with their children.

Fathers Direct will provide easy to use assessment tools to enable agencies to provide evidence that each indicator is in place.
3. Workers and VolunteersFather-friendly services are delivered by workers and volunteers who are effective at working with fathers, and who can advocate the importance of supporting father-child relationships with female services users, other workers and other agencies. 3.1 All workers and volunteers have core knowledge specifically about fathers’ experiences and roles and their impact on children, and have an understanding that they share a responsibility for supporting father-child relationships as part of their remit with local families and children.

3.2 The service
carefully and regularly assesses all workers’ and volunteers’ skills, knowledge, confidence and commitment in relation to supporting father-child relationships, and actively supports them in developing in those areas.

3.3 The service ensures that workers and volunteers with specialist responsibility for supporting fathers are skilled, committed and well supported in that role.

3.4 The service has strategies for encouraging men to work directly with fathers and their families, as workers, volunteers and peers.

Fathers Direct will provide easy to use assessment tools to enable agencies to provide evidence that each indicator is in place.
4. SettingsA father-friendly service provides an environment which communicates to all service users that fathers are welcome and valued. 4.1 The service operates out of settings that men can identify with and feel comfortable in.4.2 The service operates out of settings that display positive images of men in caring roles.

4.3 Workers and volunteers provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for male service users.

4.4 Managers and workers promote a service user culture of inclusiveness and respect towards male service users.

Fathers Direct will provide easy to use assessment tools to enable agencies to provide evidence that each indicator is in place.
5. Recruiting FathersA father-friendly service offers targeted, proactive and ongoing marketing and outreach strategies to reach out to all local fathers within their target groups. 5.1 Referral, assessment and record-keeping procedures are designed to enable the service to make contact with, learn about and respond to the needs of, all local fathers within their target groups.5.2 The service has leaflets and other publicity material (including use of local media) that explicitly target men as fathers.

5.3 Workers and volunteers are proactive and systematic at connecting with fathers within the service, in other agencies, and in the community.

5.4 The agency puts on specific events, activities and services designed to promote initial engagement with fathers.

Fathers Direct will provide easy to use assessment tools to enable agencies to provide evidence that each indicator is in place.
6. ServicesA father-friendly agency offers flexible services with a range of different approaches to engaging with local fathers and potential fathers, and which are designed with substantial input from them to take account of their specific needs and concerns. 6.1 The services offered to local fathers have been developed in consultation with men, women and children in local communities.6.2 There are a range of services on offer, in the agency or other local agencies, which different groups of fathers will find appealing and useful.

6.3 The service gathers, and makes available in accessible forms, information that local fathers themselves will need.

6.4 The service is positively evaluated (with involvement from service users) against clear, specific objectives concerning father involvement, which are understood by all relevant stakeholders.

Fathers Direct will provide easy to use assessment tools to enable agencies to provide evidence that each indicator is in place.
7. PartnershipsA father-friendly service will develop partnerships with other local agencies in order to provide strong and integrated local services to meet fathers’ complex individual needs. 7.1 The service has strong, ongoing partnerships with local children and family agencies, and agencies which engage men on other issues.
7.2 The services offered by local agencies provide an integrated needs-led package of support to meet local fathers’ diverse and complex needs.
Fathers Direct will provide easy to use assessment tools to enable agencies to provide evidence that each indicator is in place.
8. Dissemination and sustainabilityA father-friendly service will work hard to build networks and share good practice, within and beyond the agency. 8.1 The service has effective mechanisms for sharing and learning about good practice within the agency, and beyond. Fathers Direct will provide easy to use assessment tools to enable agencies to provide evidence that each indicator is in place.


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