Fatherhood Institute launches Dad Test and Champions

7 December 2009

The Fatherhood Institute has produced a Dad Test guide and Logbook, as part of the DCSF-backed ‘Think Fathers’ campaign, which aims to ensure health, education and other local services are targeted at both parents to offer the best possible support for children and their families.

David Bartlett, Deputy Chief Executive of the Fatherhood Institute, said: “Many practitioners feel they can relate easily to most mothers, but don’t always consider how well they engage with fathers. Often materials and information do not focus enough on dads, and sometimes even the physical environment can make fathers feel excluded.”

The Dad Test allows services to self-assess how effectively they interact with and support fathers, and is broken down into six parts:
• Leadership – ensuring senior managers are confident in their knowledge about why positive father-child relationships are so important to children
• Team – the importance of staff interacting well with father to encourage use of the service
• Environment – how a service’s physical environment can play a major factor in how comfortable a father will feel getting involved
• Marketing and communication – communicating proactively with fathers can help show that mainstreams services are for them as well as mums
• Recruiting fathers – recruiting fathers proactively and routinely, rather than as an exception
• Monitoring and evaluation –vital to assessing what works and what doesn’t.

The Dad Test Logbook identifies in detail exactly what services need to do to become father-inclusive and record progress.

Sue Miller, Lead Specialist Practitioner for Family Support and Parenting Commissioner at Newcastle Council said:
“The Dad Test could prove to be a useful tool for anyone commissioning services for families. We know that the father’s role is very important, and many services would like to develop ways to show how much they value and want to encourage the father’s contribution. Services that use the Dad Test to self evaluate their strengths and take active steps towards being more father-inclusive will be more effective in supporting local families and better value for money. So we will be working closely with our local colleagues and the Fatherhood Institute to ensure that all the services we commission are effective at supporting fathers’ vital role in families. ”

The Fatherhood Institute is also launching a comprehensive support package designed for all children’s family and health services – and will work in partnership with Think Fathers ‘champions’ to disseminate best practice. David Bartlett said: “We’re looking for services that are leading the way and committed to championing father-inclusive services. Ultimately we want to see all local authorities to develop workforce strategies that mean all staff are recruited and trained to have the core skills necessary to support father-child relationships. We want to see the Dad Test embedded in good practice in all public services across the country.”

For more details about the Think Fathers scheme and the Dad Test, visit www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/thinkfathers.