Parenting

Engaging and supporting fathers in Southwark

Family Early Help (FEH) Parenting Team has delivered our Father’s group work programme since 2017, with 80 fathers having completed within the 10 groups that have run to date. 90% of referrals have been received from social workers, however, we've already developed strong links to deliver further groups in partnership with our Children’s Centres during the Autumn term 2022 (read the Parenting Programme Schedule for more information on the programme (PDF, 646kb)).

The Father’s group work parenting programme was created by male Parenting Practitioners in FEH, based upon previous experience and knowledge of designing other male-focused group work programmes. It also drew from feedback from fathers who had attended the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) groups being delivered and was further influenced by work that Barnardos has undertaken with fathers.

The aims of the Father’s Group

The group is for fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers and men who have caring/parental responsibilities for children. The 10-week programme aims to improve fathering by:

  • changing parenting strategies to be more child-centred
  • increasing awareness of child development and age appropriate expectations
  • increasing understanding of co-parenting
  • understanding the role of a father
  • increasing fathers’ awareness of the impact on children exposed to conflict

Some fathers from the groups who previously had difficulties with statutory services have felt empowered to volunteer to be involved in consultations about key aspects of Children’s Services. This has included the development of an independent Family Panel and the reorganisation of Family Early Help services. Fathers are also being trained to co-facilitate the programme from September 2019. These fathers have told us about the benefits of sharing their real-life experiences and challenges with other men. This has reduced the feelings of isolation that many of the fathers felt before attending the programme. They've reported a growth in their confidence to be able to ‘step-up’ to the challenges of parenthood and being supportive in the co-parent relationship and becoming more child focused in their lives. Several fathers whose children were in the care of the local authority now have full custody of their children. And some fathers who had no contact with their children due to relationship issues between the adults, now have regular contact with their children and better relationships with the mothers of their children and professionals involved.

It's a Family Early Help service priority to reach out to fathers at the earliest opportunity when they need help. Parenting Practitioners have worked with fathers to create videos to help other fathers with communication, child development and discipline to engage with services, to help reduce their isolation as parents.

FEH submitted a successful proposal for support and assistance with evaluation tools from the ‘What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care: Practice in Need of Evidence’ for our father’s group work programme. We anticipate using the tools to evaluate the group’s effectiveness from January 2021.

Page last updated: 23 January 2024

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