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Parenting services failing to engage both parents, charity claims

Date:9 OCT 2009

Many parenting programmes promoted as effective with 'parents' are failing to engage mothers and fathers, according to a new report launched by the Fatherhood Institute today.

Fathers and Parenting Interventions: What Works? assesses the current content and delivery of the most common parenting courses and highlights the most effective strategies for recruiting fathers and supporting father-child relationships. It looks at fathers' attitudes, life experiences and experience of services, and how their behaviour impacts on children - and demonstrates the importance of gender-specific approaches in parenting services.

The report pulls together the latest research showing the benefits to children, mothers and fathers of including many different kinds of fathers (such as fathers of children with disabilities, stepfathers, young fathers and separated dads). Evidence shows that when both parents are involved in a parenting programme, families are less likely to drop out and positive change tends to occur earlier and be maintained for longer. This is especially true where there is significant parental conflict.

This report therefore urges parenting-service commissioners, who are increasingly being required by government to ensure local services engage with fathers, to adopt its recommendations.

Adrienne Burgess, author of the guide and Head of Research at the Fatherhood Institute said: "In these times of recession, it is crucial that publicly funded parenting services are shown to be money well spent. So it was shocking to discover the extent to which standard programmes promoted as being effective with 'parents' had not, in fact, been found to work well in supporting father-child relationships. The methods and content of these programmes need to be modified, and delivered by well trained staff who are aware of their own attitudes to men and fathers, and who understand 'where dads are coming from'. When this happens programmes are more cost-effective, with fathers, mothers and children all benefitting."

For more information click here to visit the Fatherhood Institute website.