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Fathers and safeguarding

Keeping children safe by improving family services' practice with fathers

Why change is needed

Children with supportive, warm, and positively involved fathers tend to be more well-adjusted, have greater cognitive ability, social behaviour and psychological well-being, and do better at school.


Fathers, like mothers, can also have negative impacts, and may pose serious risks to children – but services are much less likely to engage with and assess men in their parenting roles, or provide appropriate support and challenge. 

What needs to happen

We want there to be a step-change in social care and other safeguarding services’ engagement with fathers and other men in children’s families – to better protect children and improve their life chances.


This will require:

  • Leadership and investment from Government and other relevant agencies

  • Redesign of services and interventions

  • Improved administrative systems

  • More gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation

  • More confident father-inclusive practice by social workers and other family professionals 

Key actions

We work tirelessly to develop, refine and deliver the highest quality evidence-based father-inclusive practice training courses – which are underpinned by two decades’ worth of evidence reviews, including evidence gathered and regularly updated using systematic methods for our Nuffield Foundation-funded Contemporary Fathers in the UK evidence review series (2017-2023).


These transform the practice of individual practitioners within the health visiting, Family Hubs, early years, social care and other family-focused services that collectively contribute to the safeguarding of Britain’s children

We are part of a team working to adapt the Fathers for Change intervention for trial in the UK. If the adaptation phase (May to September 2024) is successful, the next step will be to conduct a feasibility study. This work is funded by Foundations, the What Works Centre for Children and Families as part of its REACH plan.

We conducted two rapid systematic reviews of evidence about non-accidental injury of infants by fathers, father-figures and other informal male caregivers, as part of a national inquiry by the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel – whose hard-hitting final report, the Myth of Invisible Men (2021), has been fuelling innovation in the safeguarding sector

We’ve produced a range of resources for safeguarding practitioners and leaders, including research summaries, videos co-produced with North East Young Dads and Lads and practice guides for ISAFE, and a guide to Engaging Men in Social Care, to help social work teams and leaders audit their father-engagement and develop more father-inclusive approaches

We’ve developed ISAFE (Improving Safeguarding through Audited Father Engagement) – a new online training intervention package with a ‘practice pathway’ for child protection social workers and a ‘systems pathway’ for their managers. We have delivered ISAFE to seven English local authorities as part of a randomised controlled trial to test its impact on social worker attitudes and practice. We hope to offer a version of the programme more widely once the independent evaluation is published, in summer 2024

How you can help

Commission us to deliver a webinar or training at your workplace

Make a donation to support our ongoing policy work

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