Friday, April 13, 2012

Hot Off the Presses - Engaging Fathers

In the latest edition of Early Childhood Australia's WebWatch there is so much useful information, as is usual. This month they share an article from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health publication, Foundations. You may find all the articles of benefit to you in one way or another, yet it is the one titled "Engaging Fathers in Early Childhood Services" that is the reason for this post as you can most likely gather from its title.

The article doesn't propose to provide answers to the dilemma of how to encourage more men, whether they be fathers, other significant males, or men in general to become better involved in early childhood settings. What it does do is ask many questions, but only a sample of those that could be pondered. It then goes about and explains how one service, that of the author, put processes in place to address their concerns in this area.

Reading this article will not arm you with the knowledge to combat the dearth of men in early childhood services or the lack of men having a positive influence in your child's life, but it should encourage you as a professional and/or parent to critically think about how you interact with men and, in particular, how these men are able to engage with the children/your child and staff/other family members.

Encouraging more men into the profession is a wonderful goal to have and one which would see benefits likely to flow on to children, families, staff and services. However, it might just be just as crucial to work a bit harder to engage the males that are already part of the system, even if most of them may seem like invisible participants.

If services and professionals espouse to be inclusive of all within their services then that should include, but not be limited to, the men in children's lives. I personally believe that these men do not necessarily have to part of the family structure either. Males from the community that children have connections with are  just as valid in my book. Police officers, bus drivers, postal workers, etc all may have some role to play in broadening the presence of men in children's lives.

A special acknowledgement needs to go to Jannelle Gallagher and Dr Richard Fletcher, authors of the article referred to in this post. I have known Jannelle for many years with my own children attending her service. I also have first hand experience of her dedication to increasing the male presence in early childhood services. As for Dr Fletcher, I have not had the privilege to meet him, but I have been aware of his wonderful work with fathers through the Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle.

Any headway made in encouraging more men into the early childhood sector in Australia would be due in no small part to work of these two tireless campaigners.


  1. great new 'first' post Greg from your new direction. Keep them coming, Kierna

    1. Thanks Kierna :)
      I just have to look further afield for my information and inspiration.

  2. I too like your change in direction Greg :) Deeper the better I say!


    1. Thanks @ko, although I doubt I'll ever be as political or outspoken as you. You're one of a kind.