Young carer services need to get better at engaging with dads

19 November 2015

Services providing help to families in which children and young people are looking after parents, siblings or other family members need to improve their engagement with fathers and father-figures.

That’s the key message from Fathers and fatherhood in young carers’ families, a new Fatherhood Institute report launched with the Children’s Society to mark International Men’s Day (November 19).

The report, based on a review of evidence about fathers’ impact, and about young carer families and services’ engagement with them, suggests that helping young people reflect on and improve their relationship with their father and/or father figures, or to reconnect with them if the relationship has broken down, can have a huge impact on their lives as carers and beyond. But services for young carers are patchy, and there is – in common with many family services – a lack of emphasis on supporting father-child relationships.

Among our recommendations are that:

  • Adult services should identify the parental status of every male client and his connections with children – and seek ways to ensure that these connections remain fruitful.
  • Drug and alcohol services in particular should consider using men’s fatherhood as a motivating factor to help them change their behaviour.
  • Children’s services should seek to identify and engage with the father as early as possible, unless to do so is assessed as unsafe (and even then alternative ways of working may be feasible). This is the case whether or not he has Parental Responsibility, and whether or not the mother consents. Children’s records on the integrated children’s system should clearly state the name and the full and up to date contact details of the birth father and any other significant father figures; AND whether they have been assessed and are actively involved in the child’s life.
  • If a child becomes looked after, the first choice of placement is with the other parent provided it is consistent with their welfare (s.22C Children Act 1989); so the birth father should always be consulted (and where appropriate assessed) when a placement is being considered – whether or not he has Parental Responsibility. If a father or father figure disagrees with the outcome of your assessment, his views should be recorded, placed on the child’s file and responded to accordingly.

You can download the full report below, along with individual sheets setting out recommendations for service providers and practitioners, the Government, the research community and young carers’ project workers.

Fathers and fatherhood in young carers’ families Final

Recommendations for Services and Practitioners

Recommendations for Government

Recommendations for Research community

Recommendations for Project Workers

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One Comment »

  • nongenderbias9 says:

    Thank you for trying to improve the father child relationship. In the case of newly born children to underage mothers the father is not allowed to see the child except under supervision.
    The plain truth is that policy dictates that fathers are considered dangerous and unsafe to parent their child, whilst mothers have the full expectation of the law to care for their children as a sense of duty. Fathers are no more or less likely to be good parents than mothers, and yet we continue to punish fathers with no good reason apart from not living up to mother’s expectations.
    Many more men than women commit suicide and suffer mental health issues than women because society is frightened that they may do horrible things to their children.
    What we need is some mutual respect across the gender divide, to enable mothers and fathers to both have a role in their children’s lives; otherwise we are left with a single-mother-centric society and children will remain the unhappiest in Europe.

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