‘Family Foundations’ – transition to parenthood programme for dads and mums

Family Foundations is a well-evaluated, seven-week ante- and post-natal course for expectant mothers and fathers, aimed at enhancing parent and child well-being.

Available in the UK only via the Fatherhood Institute, Family Foundations is intrinsically father-inclusive because it is – unlike standard birth-preparation programmes – designed to prepare couples for the transition to parenthood, by fostering attitudes and skills related to positive family relationships.

The goal of Family Foundations is to promote positive co-parenting (the way that parents support each other). Research indicates that this has a strong influence on parenting and on child outcomes – and can even contribute towards improved births.

You can find out more about why co-parenting is so important in several of our free research summaries: Co-parenting and early child development; Fathers and attachment; Supportive fathers, healthy mothers; and Fathers, sensitivity and parenting style.

The evidence

Family Foundations is a highly evidenced based parenting programme*, originally developed in the US and adapted for a UK context by the Fatherhood Institute. In families who have taken part in Family Foundations  there have been significant impacts on:

· Postnatal depression

· Improving parenting sensitivity and warmth

· Decreasing harsh parenting

· Fostering positive couple relations

· Establishing positive child self regulation

· Reducing child behaviour problems.

*Family Foundations is featured in the Early Intervention Foundation Guidebook, with a strength of evidence rating of 3 (out of 4), and was an ’exemplar’ in a recent Yale University systematic review of parenting interventions. If you are a commissioner thinking about how FF stacks up against other approaches, check out the EIF’s commissioner guide Reducing the impact of inter-parental conflict on children, published in September 2017.

About the training

We will train you to prepare couples for parenthood by fostering attitudes and skills related to positive parenting teamwork (“coparenting”). The approach is based on decades of research indicating that couple relationship and coparenting quality, including the ways in which couples manage difference and disagreement, strongly predict child development and adjustment. Other topics covered in FF include emotion regulation (via mindful awareness and cognitive retraining), sleep, breastfeeding, infant temperament, attachment, and positive parenting.

The training is usually commissioned across an area or within a service where we train a wide range of practitioners, including health visitors and midwives, and staff working in early years, family support services, Children’s Centres and voluntary sector agencies.


“Only 3 and a bit weeks to go now, bit scared, but less so because of the course, it’s really helped us to prepare, physically and mentally.” (Mum)

“One of the best things I found was when we started to give topics to couples to work through and for some it was a light being switched on, it was something they had never thought about.” (Health Visitor).

Read an overview from LEAP (Lambeth Early Action Partnership), explaining why they commissioned us to run Family Foundations: LEAP Family Foundations Overview.

Find out more

Read a journal paper by Mark Feinberg, the US academic who created Family Foundations: Feinberg 2008 Establishing Family Foundations

Read Laying the Right Foundations, a Fatherhood Institute report about our 2-year trial of Family Foundations (2011-13): Laying the Right Foundations

Research suggests Family Foundations can have a beneficial impact on birth outcomes. Read more in this summary by Pennsylvania State University.

Mark Feinberg reports that Family Foundations may also reduce family violence. Read more in his witness statement to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, held by the Australian state of Victoria in summer 2015.

Contact us

For more details about the training, and to talk about ways to bring Family Foundations to families in your area, contact Jeszemma Garratt, Head of Training, tel: 07917 864130 or email: j.garratt@fatherhoodinstitute.org