FI submission to Laming review calls for child protection strategies to address fatherhood

12 December 2008

The Fatherhood Institute is calling for Local Authority children’s services departments to systematically engage with and assess fathers and father figures in cases where there are child protection concerns – and for Ofsted to address father-inclusivity in its inspections.

In a submission to Lord Laming’s Inquiry on Safeguarding – set up in the light of the Baby P case and due to report next February – the Institute outlines ten recommendations to enable services and the inspection regime to grasp the nettle of engaging with and assessing fathers and father figures systematically.

They are:
• Local authority Children’s Services departments should comprehensively review whether the way services are structured supports fathers (particularly non-resident fathers) to be appropriately involved in their children’s lives.
• Ofsted inspections of local children’s services, including child protection agencies, should address the issue of how gender inclusive local strategies and services are (unlike the current framework – which is basically silent on the matter).
• Local authorities should have accessible, published policies and procedures setting out how social care services should involve fathers, including non-resident fathers.
• Local authorities should monitor the attendance of fathers (resident and non-resident) at child protection conferences and at all meetings that plan and make decisions about children.
• Children’s Services social care staff should be specifically trained to work effectively with both fathers and mothers. Staff should have a clear understanding of the law as to how it affects the engagement of fathers.
• Local authority children’s social care services should always try to involve the child(ren’s) father, unless it is assessed as unsafe (and even then alternative ways of working may be feasible).
• The local authority should be routinely inviting fathers to planning meetings about their child, monitoring their attendance and ensuring they receive minutes and decisions. The evidence from the research indicates that if invited, the majority of fathers will attend.
• Social workers should allow sufficient time to engage with non-resident fathers when carrying out assessments, in particular core assessment.
• They should explore the child’s views about their relationship with both parents, but also about whether there is any other adult whom the child values as a father figure.
• Social care workers’ fears and concerns when working with violent or threatening men, should be acknowledged and effective supervisory structures and support should be in place.

To read the Fatherhood Institute’s submission in full, follow the link under ‘Related Documents’ below.

Lord Laming submission

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