Case study (Young Fathers): Mainstreaming engagement in a Teenage Pregnancy Service
Mainstreaming engagement with young fathers in its service for young parents is a serious concern for Hull’s Teenage Pregnancy Support Service. All its advisors work holistically young expectant and new fathers and mothers – as a couple, and/or individually.
Most of the changes that have brought fathers to the service have not been costly. Top-down commitment to the issue has been key, with ongoing reflection by the whole team to identify gaps in support. Leaflets, service delivery and staffing have all been scrutinised; and all staff have attended Fatherhood Institute training. Letters are addressed to dads as well as mums; and instead of the word “parent” the terms “mother” and “father” are used. When young mothers show up alone, they are asked about their baby’s father, and the value of the service in engaging with him is explained to them. Young fathers can self-refer, and referring agencies (prompted by Hull TPSS) now ask the right questions about dads and get their contact details.
Young fathers’ needs are assessed separately from young mothers’ via a comprehensive Father’s Assessment Form. The lads often present with housing or benefits issues, moving on to accept a much wider range of support, including parenting skills. School-age boys have been supported in telling their parents; and the service has negotiated with their school around attending ante-natal appointments and classes.
The changes are producing results: in 2007, Hull helped only seven fathers referred to them. In 2008 100 were referred from local services, including Connexions, with the help of a referral form designed by Hull TPSS, to ensure the capture of data on fathers and fatherhood. The 2009 engagement with with 160 young fathers is still short of the 450 mothers Hull TPSS supports each year, but a real improvement. Hull TPSS has also influenced other local services: a partnership with the PCT is making fathers more welcome within maternity services; and local Children’s Centres’ awareness of how to extend their welcome to dads has been raised. Now a multi-agency group is developing father-inclusiveness across the city.
Contact at Hull Teenage Pregnancy Support Service: firstname.lastname@example.orgTags: Maternity, Vulnerable families, Young fathers