With a million children having no significant contact with their fathers, Family Hubs have a key role involving Dads.
Engagement of Fathers is important because;
- Fathers’ failure to be registered on the birth certificate is a predictor both of decreasing involvement and low – or non – payment of child maintenance.
- The presence of a supportive partner during the early years reduces the likelihood of postnatal depression.
- Men are more likely to attend antenatal classes when they are directly approached, when programmes are scheduled at convenient times outside working hours, and when the focus, at least initially, is on practical issues.
Hubs can do this through;
- Opening for longer hours, for example an evening a week or at weekends. This would make it easier for fathers – especially those who are young and disadvantaged – to make it a port of call.
- Outreach services can help fathers who are most in need of support – but least likely to come through the doors of a Hub or admit to outreach workers that they are struggling – to come to terms with their responsibilities.
- Exposing community-based midwives, many of whom will also continue to work in hospitals, to a culture of father-inclusive practice in Family Hubs is a way of spreading awareness that this is important but not necessarily costly, in terms of time and effort.
- Specific antenatal groups which focus on men’s needs. These support groups reduce distress, increase their ability to cope and result in improved relationships with partners. Fathers who are unwilling to engage with statutory services may be less resistant to voluntary sector initiatives
- Engaging fathers in a Hub provide an opportunity for men to meet other fathers who live locally and to form friendships and informal support groups.