Over the last 5 years, we have researched the experiences of fathers whose children are involved with Children’s Services because of need or welfare concerns. The most recent phase of this work concentrated on fathers where there were allegations of domestic abuse. We are a leader in this important area of child welfare and social work practice, which has been largely neglected until now.
Our research has found that too often fathers, particularly non-resident fathers, are overlooked by social workers as a risk or as a resource to their children.
• An audit of case files in two Children’s Services Departments authorities found that less than half the fathers who were in touch with their child were invited to a meeting when Children’s Services were undertaking the core assessment.
• It was noticeable that when fathers were invited to meetings, three-quarters of them took up this opportunity.
• Case files audits of children in need and child protection cases where there was domestic abuse, revealed a lack of assessment and information about the parenting capacity of 61% of these fathers, despite 88% of them having some contact with their children.
Fathers Matter resources
• Ed. Cathy Ashley. Contributions by Clare Roskill, Claire Fraser, Brid Featherstone, Sean Haresnape and Bridget Lindley (2011) Working with risky fathers: Fathers Matter Volume 3: Research findings on working with domestically abusive fathers and their involvement with children’s social care services (Family Rights Group)
• Contributions by Clare Roskill, Brid Featherstone, Cathy Ashley and Sean Haresnape (2008) Fathers Matter Volume 2: Further findings on fathers and their involvement with social care services (Family Rights Group)
• Contributions by Cathy Ashley, Brid Featherstone, Clare Roskill, Mary Ryan and Sue White (2006) Research findings on fathers and their involvement with social care services (Family Rights Group)
• Fathers Matter DVD: The views and experiences of fathers on their involvement with local authority children’s services, pub 2009. Fathers take centre stage in this powerful DVD, which draws upon the findings from Fathers Matter Vol 1 and 2. It is an important training resource for social workers, their managers, social work students and policy makers.
• Featherstone Brid, Fraser Claire, Lindley Bridget and Ashley Cathy (2010) Fathers Matter: Resources for Social Work Educators (link)
Download this free e-resource pack which has chapters on: findings from Fathers Matter 1 and 2; an international literature review; fathers and the law; fathers and social work educators; and key texts for social work educators.
• We have also produced a series of frequently asked questions for fathers that cover parental responsibility; family support; contact; child protection; care proceedings; the care system; and adoption.
• We also run two Fathers Matter training courses for social workers, social worker managers and child care workers on ‘addressing child welfare concerns - working with fathers' and on ‘working with risky fathers’.
Fathers Matter - 2011 onwards
We are working with The Fatherhood Institute, on a project which is funded by the Department for Education, to further develop best practice in working with fathers to safeguard children. This will involve working with six local authorities including their local safeguarding children boards to develop and support them to implement local action plans. The work will include child protection and children in need case file audits. The two year project also involves developing an e-learning tool and best practice guide for social workers and their managers.