New chief executive for Fatherhood Institute

13 May 2009

Thursday 7 May 2009

For immediate release

Former Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England to lead UK fatherhood think tank

‘Helping fathers to connect with their children is one of the best ways to improve their experience of childhood’, said Rob Williams, who is returning to work after seven months spent looking after his children at home to become new Chief Executive of the Fatherhood Institute this month.

‘I know from my own experience the difficulties of balancing the twin demands of work and fatherhood. And yet research carried out by the Fatherhood Institute and others shows how important it is to get this right – children benefit greatly when they have close, positive relationships with their fathers’.

‘I stood down from my role as Deputy Children’s Commissioner last year in order to reconnect with my own family and look for a more balanced life. My new role at the Fatherhood Institute, where everyone works from home, will allow me to do that.’

The Fatherhood Institute collates and publishes international research on fatherhood and offers Government and local authorities’ advice about policies and services which support father-child relationships and enable families to share childcare more equally. Previous Chief Executive, Duncan Fisher, was a co-founder of the Institute; previously known Fathers Direct, and led the organisation from 1999 to February 2009. Two of his co-founders continue as senior members of the Institute: David Bartlett as Deputy Chief Executive and Adrienne Burgess as Director of Research.

Rob Williams said; ‘This is a very exciting time to join the Fatherhood Institute, as more fathers look for ways to increase their engagement with their children, and benefit from increasing government interest in making this possible. For example, the Government’s new child health strategy, published in February, recognised strong evidence that early involvement of fathers has significant benefits for children’s social, emotional and intellectual development and wellbeing.

As a result, the strategy provides for fathers to be included in the health check reviews that are currently only carried out with mothers, and selected PCTs will pilot a new Antenatal Education and Preparation for Parenthood Programme which will emphasise including fathers.’

‘As interest grows in improving the outcomes of children growing up in the UK, I look forward to leading the Fatherhood Institute as it continues to further understanding and influence policies to give fathers and mothers the best chance of fulfilling their vital roles as parents.’


Note to Editors

The Fatherhood Institute is the UK’s leading provider of training, consultancy and publications to support local children’s services to engage with and support fathers. See for more details. For further information, or to arrange an interview with Rob Williams, please email Melissa Milner or phone her on                020 7793 4035         /                079 7663 6228        .

*Fathers who are highly involved from the start tend to stay highly involved – and children with highly involved fathers tend to have: better friendships with better-adjusted children; fewer behavioural problems; lower criminality and substance abuse; higher educational achievement; greater capacity for empathy; less stereotypical attitudes to earning and childcare, more satisfying adult sexual partnerships; higher self-esteem and life-satisfaction (Flouri, 2005, Pleck & Masciadrelli, 2004).

Rob Williams also served as the Chief Executive of 11 MILLION (the Children’s Commissioner’s organisation), in addition to being the deputy children’s commissioner from 2006-2008. He was previously Chief Executive of BLISS, the premature baby charity, from 2003-2006. Prior to that he spent 10 years working in international development including working as the Country Director for Concern Worldwide in Cambodia and Burundi and spent two years leading rapid response teams to conflict zones in Africa and Asia.