Yesterday our Father's Plus service hosted a national conference in York. It was great to meet so many practitioners from all over the country who are passionate about the importance of including fathers in services for 'parents' and families. For 13 years Children North East has been pointing out that a great many services for parents are actually designed for mothers; and showing by example that getting fathers actively involved means working differently because most blokes are put off by the 'talking about feelings' model that services usually employ.
The theme of the conference was how to continue this important work in these straitened times. The previous government explicitly recognised the importance of fathers to good outcomes for children, it was written down in their 'Children's Plan' last year; but the Coalition government has other priorities. At the conference were presentations from officers in Blackburn with Darwen, Sunderland and Newcastle showing how our Father's Plus team has helped local services to get Dads involved in health, early years and primary education, with impressive results - you can read about it and see the conference presentations here.
Interestingly last week The Guardian reported research that fathers are less stressed and happier when they are more involved with their children and also doing their share of the housework: http://bit.ly/ddSisu I agree with that, for me family life has been the most rewarding part of my life ever since I first became a Dad 18 years ago. The magazine 'Children and Young People Now' had a different take on the same research, they say employers should treat all parents (men and women) the same when it comes to flexible working hours.