Father-inclusive practice audits

Commissioning a Fatherhood Institute audit of your capacity to engage fathers can be an excellent starting point on the road towards embedding father-inclusiveness across your organisation.

When we conduct an audit, we agree a contract with senior managers, specifying the terms of reference of the audit, and a plan for how it will be conducted. Audits can take anything from three to six months, and are project managed and delivered by Fatherhood Institute staff with many years’ direct experience of maximising successful engagement with fathers.

We take a multi-tiered approach to the audit process, to ensure we reach a fair assessment of how well services are working in practice, and how they might best be improved. By inviting a local reference group to share in the design of the audit, to examine its initial findings and to address outcomes, we ensure the whole process is built around partnership working.

A parenting lead from the Midlands who commissioned a father-inclusive practice audit said: “We are aware that engaging fathers is a core element of our local strategy and we used the audit as a way of focusing local services and creating a clear planning process.”

The audit process

To get a sense of managers’ and staff members’ focus on father-inclusiveness, we conduct extensive interviews as well as analysing relevant working documents from local authority parenting strategies to day-to-day paperwork such as registration and client assessment forms.

We use ‘mystery shopping’ to examine the reality of what services are offering fathers, and to think about issues like how welcoming the settings and frontline staff are. We also interview fathers themselves – both those who are accessing services and those who may not be.

For example, if we were assessing how well Children’s Centres were reaching out to new dads, we might contact dads via a baby weighing clinic or accompany Home Start volunteers on home visits, to build up a picture of fathers’ awareness of what services were available locally.

We present our findings in a report, and present a summary to a local reference group, including the commissioners of the audit and the managers of the services assessed. We can also run a more wide-ranging local event, which can be a useful way of feeding back the results and galvanising stakeholders to think about how best to develop and build on good practice.

Find out more from our National Practice Development Manager, Jeszemma Garratt on tel 0791 7864130 or email j.garratt@fatherhoodinstitute.org.