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'Something in it for dads': getting fathers involved with Sure Start

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This paper presents a case study of one local Sure Start programme's significant success in engaging large numbers of fathers with its services. The paper details both the levels of male involvement in the programme over time and the strategies found to be effective in involving men. Numbers of fathers using programme services rose to over 100 in 2005, with the total number of male attendances exceeding 1000 in that same year. The successful engagement of fathers in this programme's activities was found to be a result of a combination of both strategic and day-to-day approaches. Effective strategic approaches were close partnership working with an expert local voluntary agency, the use of a gender differentiated approach and in-going commitment to the work at programme management level. Factors related to success at a day-to-day level included the high level of skill and persistence demonstrated by a dedicated Fathers Worker and the implicit use of a social marketing approach. Findings are discussed in the context of current national policy contexts relating to father engagement.

Keywords: Early years; Fathers; Service provision

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK 2: School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, UK

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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