Caring Dads: The essential information
What is it?
Caring Dads is a group intervention programme aiming to help fathers, of any age, improve their relationship with their children. It helps dads learn how to spend time with children in healthy ways, and to understand the impact on children of controlling, abusive and neglectful actions, which include witnessing domestic violence. The programme is evidence-based and has been refined over the last 10 years.
We also have the shorter Being Dads programme for young and expectant first-time dads.
Who is it for?
This programme is for men who want to be a positive force in their children's lives.
- We accept referrals from individuals and other organisations.
- We check fathers are suitable for the programme before it starts with a screening interview.
- Fathers need to be having contact with their children at least every two weeks.
What does it do?
Fathers learn how to spend time with children in healthy ways, understanding the impact on children of controlling, abusive and neglectful actions, including domestic violence
Why does this programme exist?
This programme sets out to improve children's life chances and to stop cycles of abuse. Through 17 group sessions fathers will:
- Learn skills to cope in healthy ways with hard situations
- Understand how their choices and ways of being a father affect children
- Increase awareness about how their behaviours and attitudes can be harmful to children.
- Be given ways to strengthen the father-child relationship
How long is this programme for?
The Caring Dads group programme runs one evening a week. This programme runs for 17 weeks.
This group offers:
- A unique chance for men to connect as fathers
- A mix of active group exercises and homework
Facts about fathering:
- Fathers can and want to be a positive influence in the lives of their children
- Positively involving dads helps children be happier at home and at school.
Sadly, sometimes fathers can have a negative impact on their children, such as when they:
- Do not understand the feelings and needs of their children
- Argue frequently with their children's mothers
- Use hurtful or controlling behaviour
An insight into being a Caring Dad:
A father talks about the impact of the programme on his relationship with his daughter
There are fathers out there twice my age that can’t do the things that I have learnt to do and it makes me feel so well prepared for when I see my child... At Caring Dads I’ve become aware of many things people my age aren’t aware of and has been a great positive impact on me as I used to be quite a negative person.
But now I have learnt I need to meet my daughter’s needs and how I can improve on this. Every word that the project worker says in our sessions is always constructive towards me being a better parent instead of being lectured on what we’re doing wrong. I can tell you that every other parent that goes to Caring Dads enjoys the sessions and the knowledge they gain.
Ofsted inspectors talked at length to a Caring Dad and member of St Michael's staff delivering the programme about the process and impact. They were impressed with how the programme supports younger dads too. In their report, they stated:
"St Michael's Fellowship programmes strengthen parenting for vulnerable young parents and safeguard their children exceptionally well. The work is extraordinarily powerful in changing young men and women's attitudes to gangs and offending; it improves their relationships and helps them to sustain the care of their children safely."
Further links highlighting research that supports Caring Dads:
- NSPCC 'Caring Dads: Safer Children' Evaluation Report
- St Michael's Fellowship 'The Caring Dads Programme with young fathers in Lambeth' a pilot carried out between 2015-2017
- American Psychological Association "Caring Dads, Safer Children: A families' perspective on an intervention for maltreating fathers"
- University of Birmingham 'Caring Dads Safer Children' by Julie Taylor
- A link to a Caring Dads programme running in Leeds.