Young carer services need to get better at engaging with dads
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.Child protection, Disability, Drugs and alcohol, Separated families, Young carers