Perhaps the most important benefit of father-inclusive practice is the enormous rewards this has for children. Positive and consistent father-child interaction brings the support and protection needed to increase social, emotional and cognitive development.
Children often have an increased sense of wellbeing, a clearer sense of their identity and greater resilience to adversity. Father-inclusive practice strengthens and supports families and is vitally important for the community as a whole.
Evidence shows that when fathers take a positive, active role in the lives of their children, there are:
- less behavioural problems
- improved social skills; and
- better educational outcomes as a result.
It is becoming more apparent that the role of fathers in families is changing. Fathers, whether they are the primary caregiver, separated from the family, step-fathers or grandfathers they are increasingly playing a greater role and becoming more active in their children's lives.
The key elements of father-inclusive practice
Many fathers are still reluctant to approach or utilise services because of the many and varied barriers to accessibility they face. Organisations need to be:
- proactive in their efforts to engage fathers
- reassess the way they plan, develop and deliver their programs; and
- address accessibility issues to align themselves with the increased need to provide services that meet, and are responsive to the needs of fathers.
In essence, father- inclusive practice aims to:
- value and support men in their role as fathers
- actively encourage their participation in programs; and
- ensure they are appropriately and equally considered in all aspects of service delivery.
This can include, but is not limited to:
- the introduction of father specific programs and resources
- the way groups are facilitated
- attitudes and skills of staff members
- language used in promotional materials
- flexible opening hours; and
- the physical environment
- Father-Inclusive Practice Guide -575 KB
In order to achieve father-inclusive practice the needs of fathers must be responded to through the planning, development and delivery of services. This guide can be used as a tool to improve father-inclusive practice.