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Supporting Young Fathers Network

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'Young fathers work is not just the remit of the young fathers workers role - it is the whole team's responsibility.'

TSA's Young Fathers Project revealed a number of key characteristics for workers that seem to determine whether a project or organisation working with young fathers is likely to be successful.

The Characteristics of Successful Fathers Workers

Workers need to be:
  • proactive in creating initial contacts with referral agencies
  • determined to contact potential young fathers
  • constantly patient in making regular contact with clients
  • accessible to clients during the week by telephone (mobile and land-line)
  • based in a centre accessible to clients
  • approachable in the eyes of the young fathers
  • trained to work one-to-one and as a group facilitator
  • realistic in understanding boundaries of own expertise
  • able to refer on clients who need services beyond the scope of the project or service
  • espectful of clients but able to set boundaries of acceptable behaviour
  • willing to accept each client's stage of development and work with it.

Adapted from Mordaunt (2005)

Practitioners we spoke to confirmed many of the key characteristics reported by Mordaunt (2005). Similarly, ContinYou's (2005b) Top Dads also identifies a number of qualities important for those working with young fathers. A number of workers told us that confidence and the ability to challenge other professionals is an important quality. Fathers Plus, the TPSS in Hull, Lewisham Young Fathers Project, and the Health Initiatives Team at Education Leeds all highlighted that challenging attitudes was an important skill to develop. Workers need to be able to promote the idea that young fathers work is not just the remit of the dedicated young fathers worker's role, but is the whole team's responsibility. They also need to be able to tackle fellow professionals who hold stereotypical negative views about young fathers.

Practitioners also told us that in order to encourage others to work with young fathers, individuals need appropriate training to ensure that it is done in a way that encourages a 'whole team' approach to engaging routinely with mothers and fathers. Yet despite the obvious importance of staff training, TSA's Young Fathers Project shows that it is frequently overlooked as time and budget pressures are focused on setting up and developing the work.

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