Becoming father-inclusive: a Fatherhood Institute programme of training and supervision across a London borough

16 December 2010

The Fatherhood Institute worked with thirteen Children’s Centres across one London borough in 2008 to 9 to help develop their services to become more father-inclusive. As part of a six-month contract negotiated with the Early Years team, we worked with the managers of all thirteen centres, an average of two frontline staff at each centre, and directly with around 45 dads and 60 mums accessing services.

We used a variety of methods to bring dads centre stage and embed father inclusiveness into everyday practice across the district.

To enhance team skills, we delivered a three-day Working with fathers in early years and children’s centres accredited course, as well as training staff to deliver our pioneering peer mentoring programme for expectant and new dads, Hit the Ground Crawling. We supported managers to develop and push forward more father-inclusive strategies, and encouraged reflective practice among practitioners via a staff supervision programme.

For mums and dads we ran parents’ forums focusing on why fathers are so important, and worked with internationally renowned photographer Edmund Clark to deliver a six-week course enabling them to explore their realities of fatherhood through the medium of digital photography – culminating in a Father’s Day exhibition.

What the participants said

“This work has given us the impetus we needed to create systematic engagement with local fathers. By putting fathers at the heart of our agenda we are creating more holistic services for the whole family.”
Children’s centre lead

“Being involved in one local area for so long enabled us to really get across the message that engaging fathers needs a whole-team approach, and that it’s vital to help mothers understand how much fathers impact of the development of children.”
Kathy Jones, Fatherhood Institute project lead

“It was kind of nice to talk about our experiences – it felt comfortable being with a group of men. It made me realise how much I know about being a good dad.”
Hit the Ground Crawling training – participating father

“The staff who attended (the three-day accredited course) were really inspired and thought the trainers were fantastic – really understanding and sensitive to their needs.”
Children’s Centre manager

“I learned such a lot and went away with lots of ideas and feeling really encouraged. I guess for me it re-iterated the importance of involving fathers and the importance of their role and the support they also need.”
Family support worker

“It sounds so obvious but it’s made me realise that fathers can also do what mothers do. I learnt such a lot about how to build a good relationship between fathers and children.”
Parents’ forum – participating mother

“The whole thing has been just excellent – really inspiring and interesting. I didn’t want it to end.”
Photography course – participating father