Social Work with Fathers: Positive Practice

Social Work with Fathers: Positive Practice

Social Work with Fathers: Positive Practice

Social Work with Fathers: Positive Practice


The majority of fathers, father-substitutes and father figures wish to do well by their children. However, as a number of high profile cases testify, fathers often feel that they receive poor treatment at the hands of the social care system. Recent research points to the value of involved parenting by fathers while government policy initiatives, such as the Gender Equality Duty in Scotland, have attempted to stress the importance of involving fathers in their child care.

Gary Clapton proposes a father sensitive, father aware social work practice and suggests that that any social care system that adopts a default position that child care is the responsibility of women alone is hampered by its failure to acknowledge the positive potential of fathers. The arguments advanced in this book concentrate on children and family practice but do not neglect the importance of fatherhood in social work with vulnerable adults, fathers as carers, or in the criminal justice system.

Social Work with Fathers will assist those working within social care and children's services, students of social care and social work and policy makers.


Parenting is important to men, and fathers are important to their children and families. The underpinning belief of this book is one that understands the benefits of father-inclusive practice and one of optimism about social work with the vast majority of fathers and their children and families. It is also realistic and practical about those fathers whose behaviour makes it hard to be positive.

While not intending to favour or prioritise one way of being a father or ‘doing’ fathering among the possibilities that exist, the positive practice in this book concerns the men who accept - or are ascribed - parental responsibility for a child, or would do so if given the opportunity.

The book is about reaching out to, engaging and then working with fathers. It is strengths-based rather than deficit-driven. It also addresses agency practices, trainers and educators. Fathers’ workers and support groups are included because of the growing resources that they provide. Firstly, however, the beginning two chapters outline some crucial contexts. These are the striking changes that have taken place in fathers’ behaviour, the intersection of fatherhood and masculinity and what we know about the contribution positive fathering can make in the lives of children, women and families. This foreground concludes with the way that fathers have been overlooked by professionals and policymakers and the negative manner in which they are depicted.

Changing fathers

Fathers now play a more active role in childcare and domestic life in general. While fathers still do less of the parenting than mothers, their involvement has grown and continues to grow. Fathers’ involvement in childcare has increased from less than fifteen minutes a day in the mid-1970s to three hours a day during the week by the late 1990s, with . . .

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