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We need more support for teen dads

Release Date: 17 Dec 2012

A report by the Family Strategic Partnership, warns that a culture shift is needed in ‘mother-centred’ family services which often treat dads as invisible.

Currently services across the board, from pregnancy care to housing support, are driving fathers apart from their children through a ‘culture where fathers are not valued.

What are the issues?

  • A failure by maternity services and children’s centres to even ask about fathers.
  • Local authority housing benefit rules that prevent dads from accommodating their children.
  • A widespread lack of basic local authority data on the numbers and profile of teen fathers.

The report, which has been funded by the Department for Education, calls for an ‘attitudinal shift’ in statutory services such as prisons, schools, and health services, towards a culture of support for young dads.

Report recommendations include:

  • Every local authority should appoint a lead professional for young fathers
  • A systematic approach to data collection on fathers should be developed by central government
  • Relationship support should also help young parents maintain contact and value the father child relationship

Jonathan Rallings, Barnardo’s Assistant Director of Policy and Research, comments:

For too long dads have been treated either as optional extras or completely invisible by mother-centred family services.

Young dads want to play their part in bringing up their children. However, they all too often receive the message that they’re worthless from services that ignore or marginalise them from the point of pregnancy onwards.

To be properly involved in their children’s lives, young dads need the same kind of support as teen mums. This includes easily accessible parenting advice, help with housing, and special timetabling for training and study.

We are calling on local authorities to help lead a cultural shift in family care, by introducing practices across their services that universally support young dads’ journeys into fatherhood.

Read the report here

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