Britain Lags Behind Industrialised World in Backing Dads

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Britain Lags Behind Industrialised World 

in Backing Dads

Britain is failing its fathers while other countries are supporting dads with a raft of innovative policies, a high level seminar reveals today. International experts from the United States and Australia will highlight how much Britain can learn from international experience.

James A Levine, a fatherhood advisor to the US government , and Dr. Graeme Russell, fatherhood advisor to the Australian government, will address the seminar which is sponsored by the new UK government-funded information service for and about fathers, Fathers Direct, in association with two major UK policy organisations: the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Family Policy Studies Centre.The April 23rd seminar, Men and their Children, is funded by the Department of Health, and aims to learn lessons from government support for US and Australian fathers. It will detail that:

In the US in 1995, President Clinton ordered all federal agencies involved in family programmes specifically to include fathers.

The US health department is supporting family planning programmes aimed specifically at encouraging men to use contraception responsibly.

The US equivalent of the Child Support Agency is supporting programmes for fathers which combine helping them into jobs with parenting education and support. The goal is to empower fathers as nurturers, not just sources of cash.

The US health department, in its Head Start programmes targeted at young disadvantaged children, is promoting inclusion of fathers in a child's early experience. To help reduce infant mortality, the male partners of pregnant women in high risk areas have been targeted to increase their involvement in prenatal care and early childhood.

The Australian government has carried out the world's largest fatherhood audit of 1,000 Australian men and of services working with fathers. It revealed an ambitious approach to fatherhood – men wishing to be more involved in childrearing, seeing this as key to both sons’ and daughters’ wellbeing, and identifying long working hours and negative social expectations as the most significant barriers to involved fathering. In Australia, special programmes, funded by the Federal Government, will support and educate fathers in the work place. These include a $Aus1million Men's Helpline and the development of videos on parenting issues from a male perspective.Australia already offers 12 months parental leave, which can be divided up between partners, compared with the UK's commitment to just three months.

The UK Government says it recognises the important role fathers play in their children’s lives, and wishes to support this. Fathers Direct, founded earlier this year with a grant from the Department of Health, will promote close and positive relationships between men and their children and help develop appropriate initiatives for Britain. Currently, UK fathers receive little support from family services and few family friendly work-benefits,and experience the Child Support Agency as a financial threat, not as encouragement for active and enthusiastic fathering.The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), an independent charity, was the first organisation to integrate fatherhood into the family policy debate through the publication of Men and their Children (Burgess & Ruxton, 1996) and A Complete Parent: towards a new vision for child support (Burgess, 1998). IPPR has also conducted research into fathers’ networks.The Family Policy Studies Centre (FPSC) is an independent body which analyses family trends and the impact of policy. An information and research centre, it has published important work on fathers in Britain, notably Families and Fatherhood in Britain (Burghes, Clarke & Cronin, 1997) and Young Single Fathers: participation in fatherhood (Speak, Cameron & Gilroy, 1997)

James Levine is the Director of The Fatherhood Project at the Families and Work Institute in New York City, and was a consultant to U.S. Vice President Al Gore in drafting the new federal initiative on fatherhood. In 1998, The Wall Street Journal selected his book "Working Fathers: New Strategies For Balancing Work and Family" as one of the year's top ten work-life books.

E-mail LevineJA@@@aol.com (web site: www.fatherhoodproject.org.) Phone: April 19/20 011-33-02-37-31-15-15fax 011-33-02-37-31-57-91; April 22-23 c/o Adrienne Burgess (see below)

Graeme Russell is Associate Professor of Psychology at Sydney's Macquarie University and project manager and co-author of the Australian Government’s Fatherhood Audit. E-mail russellgraeme@@@hotmail.com. Phone: April 19/20 011-33-02-37-31-15-15 fax 011-33-02-37-31-57-91; April 22-23 c/o Adrienne Burgess (see below)PRESS ENQUIRIES TO:

Adrienne Burgess (Fathers Direct) tel 0171 821 0537 fax 0171 233 6925 e-mail burgesscochrane@@@easynet.co.ukDavid Bartlett (Fathers Direct) tel 0171 732 6316/358 5916 fax 0171 701 2660 e-mail dbart@@@dial.pipex.comMelissa Bullock (IPPR) tel 0171 470 6100 fax 0171 470 6111

e-mail ippr@@@easynet.co.ukCeridwen Roberts (FPSC) tel 0171 388 5900 fax 0171 388 5600

 


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