Case study: Greenwich Children’s Centres – reaching out to other services

15 March 2010

How we prepared . . .

We carried out a survey of registered fathers, from which we analysed their preferences and how this matched ECM outcomes and EYFS frameworks. We found from the survey that as long as family learning was encompassed in a fun activity that appealed to males (construction, paediatric first aid, sports, arts projects) it would engage them. In addition, we carried out extensive research into activities on a “what works, what doesn’t” basis and came up with a template of activities that Children’s Centres could use.

Dads’ Advisory Group

We felt it equally important to provide a forum where fathers could lead on strategic development of activities to engage fathers. We did this by recruiting fathers with under 5s from around the borough to form the Dads Advisory Group ensuring that each post code was represented. The advisory group has now been running for a 15 months and has achieved the following notable successes:

  • The number of children’s centres offering activities for fathers and their children across the borough has increased to 13 over the last twelve months.
  • The activities of the DAG and activities for dads in Children’s Centres has been regularly covered in ‘Greenwich Time’, which has carried the message that Children’s Centres are a place for dads too.
  • The ‘Message to Dads’ flier designed by the group now goes into local Bounty Packs to reach 9,000 families a year and is also distributed to all new Council tenants in welcome packs. London & Quadrant Housing Association and Triangle Homes are also distributing this flier to all new tenants.
  • The DAG’s concerns about the local NHS provision of services for fathers has been fed back and joint working arrangements have been reinforced and NHS staff have met with Early Years to look at services for fathers.
  • Publicising the DAG: Links have now been made with Housing, NHS, other dads groups and service providers. We are currently advertising the DAG in, fliers, the new ‘Toolkit for Dads’, the CAFC match programmes, Greenwich ‘What’s On’ magazine and Greenwich Time.
  • Links have been made with the NCT dads group (now independent SELondon dads group) and we are now working more closely and will extend membership to SEL dads.

Staff training

A further important process has been to design a training programme to equip Children’s Centre staff to feel confident about engaging dads and recognise parenting differences and dispel myths. Part of training to staff is to ensure that data about fathers is captured to see whether we are having an impact. In early 2008 only 8% of registered fathers attended Centres, but this has now increased to over 30% and rising.

New methods of publicity are always being tested, such as local mail shots and library based information.  Nurseries getting children to invite their dad to take them to an event works well. The next stage will be to focus more resources on young fathers and BME groups. In addition we have a clear gap in ante/post natal activities (group starting in February) and groups for separated fathers.