36 ideas for helping to engage fathers

 Grandfather, father and childrenThe importance of fathers is increasingly recognised in working with families. The following are 36 ideas that could help services engage fathers.

  1. Prioritise father inclusive practice in the annual strategic plan
  2. Ensure support for father inclusion through policy development
  3. Have an Engaging Father’s Policy
  4. Provide regular reports to the governing body on the inclusion of fathers
  5. Actively recruit male staff and volunteers
  6. Identify a specific individual within the service who will champion father engagement
  7. Provide training and ongoing professional development regarding fathers for all staff including evidence based approaches to working effectively with families
  8. Include father-inclusive practices as a core component of relevant Vocational Education and Training, undergrad and postgrad education
  9. Ensure staff understand the demographics of fathers in the community
  10. Map the strengths and priorities of local fathers
  11. Seek the input of fathers into service planning
  12. Incorporate an action research model of evaluation to refine practice
  13. Ensure the program environment is aesthetically appealing to men
  14. Adapt promotion materials and program content to be father friendly
  15. Try holistic, multi-dimensional programs that are universal
  16. Provide parenting programs which specifically target or engage fathers
  17. Look for, and consider changing, any bias towards mothers in service delivery and program development
  18. Deliver services and programs at hours that support the involvement of men
  19. Use curiosity and motivational interviewing
  20. Use a family-relationship perspective which can successfully address some of the key risk factors that affect children’s development and family functioning in diverse family types
  21. Develop goals beyond getting the father to attend
  22. Actively recruit fathers
  23. Inform fathers about services and programs
  24. Identify strengths of fathers
  25. Deliberately engage fathers in programs and events
  26. Focus on specific factors like understanding child development and creating realistic expectations of child or infant behaviour within programs and interventions
  27. Hold a vision of father’s needs that included his provider role and his relationship with his child
  28. Assist parents while parents are still together and the child is expected or very young
  29. Involve fathers despite challenging situations e.g. when parents are in conflict, domestic violence is present, or when the father has been out of contact with the child for some time
  30. Reach out to separated & incarcerated fathers
  31. Include custodial mothers in the programs when parents are separated
  32. Be aware that mothers may block or divert service access to fathers and can also instigate and support father engagement
  33. Recognise that fathers may be reluctant clients
  34. Be knowledgeable about local services for fathers and make appropriate referrals
  35. Critically reflect on practice to ensure fathers are included
  36. Do postgraduate study relating to fathers e.g. father related courses in the Graduate Certificate and Master of Family Studies at the University of Newcastle (http://www.newcastle.edu.au/research-and-innovation/centre/fac/study-with-us)

These ideas were put together by one of my colleagues at the Family Action Centre, Leanne Schubert, (with some input from Deborah Hartman and me) largely based on a literature review completed by some other colleagues: Richard Fletcher, Chris May, Jennifer St George, Lyn Stoker, and Michele Oshan (2014).

For more details see:

Fletcher, R., May, C., St George, J., Stoker, L., & Oshan, M. (2014). Engaging fathers: evidence review. Canberra: Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY). Available from https://www.aracy.org.au/publications-resources/area?command=record&id=197&cid=6

Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). Fathers inclusive practice. A tool to support the inclusion of fathers in a holistic approach to service delivery. Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Available from https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/families-and-children/publications-articles/father-inclusive-practice-guide

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. Engaging fathers: An overview of evidence-based practice
  2. Being a father
  3. A great 1 minute video of fathers and their kids
  4. Workshop for Aboriginal fathers in prison – what worked
  5. Creating positive images of Aboriginal fathers
  6. Young Aboriginal fathers talk about being dads

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Families & parenting, Working with communities and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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