David Lammy MP - who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on fathers has launched his submission to the Labour Party policy review on the role of fathers in modern society to coincide with Fathers Day June 2013
Lammy’s report, Doing Family: Encouraging Active Fatherhood, reveals how quickly attitudes to fatherhood have changed and highlights the gap between the way that families want to live their lives and the way that they are allowed to by government policies.
In Wales FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru is seeking to influence the development of a new parenting strategy by the Welsh Government to ensure that support for fathers is explicitly covered. Unlike the UK Govt there is a legal duty on Welsh Ministers to use their 'best efforts' to support BOTH parents in their child raising duties under Article 18 of the UNCRC.
'The experience of people across Wales who come to us for support has shown that there is still a very strong presumption that mothers are the only parent they need to engage with irrespective of whether the father lives with the children all the time or is only seeing them occassionally.' said Paul Apreda, National Manager of the charity. 'We recently undertook some research with schools in Cardiff on their engagement with fathers. One school we followed up said - 'Well not many of our children have fathers' which is evidently not biologically correct but is symptomatic of the malaise permeating work with parents across many areas. We hope that the new Parenting Strategy will address this issue.'
But the problem is not simply confined to statutory services. In submissions to the Assembly's Children's committee in 2011 Barnardos Cymru stated:
‘I think that it would be the case for all organisations – not just speaking on behalf of Barnardo’s, but having heard what Action for Children and other organisations say – that we are still focused on Mothers predominantly.’
The Assembly's Childrens Committee recommended in its report to Welsh Government that engagement with fathers should be part of the core business of parenting support. So far nothing has been done to take up that recommendation.
FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru is launching an initiative this month to capture a picture of the engagement of fathers in parenting support programmes across Wales to establish a 'baseline' of participation. We are seeking to support the Welsh Government in their duty under the Children's Rights Measure 2011 to use their 'best efforts' to support BOTH parents. We are also working to establish a Cross Party Assembly Group on fathers and fatherhood to mirror the UK Parliament group chaired by David Lammy MP.
Details of David Lammy's initiative can be read on his website here: http://www.davidlammy.co.uk/Doing_Family_Encouraging_Active_Fatherhood
and the full report can be accessed here: http://www.davidlammy.co.uk/sitedata/PDFS/Doing_Family_Encouraging_A.pdf