A recent Panorama programme, Britain’s Missing Dads reported on feckless fathers and asked, do benefits for single mothers prevent fathers having a role? It is somewhat more nuanced than that. Some fathers could not, nor ever could, get involved with their children. If your own father did not, for whatever reason, become a warm and participative parent, you yourself may not have a clear emotional view of what fathers can bring to life. The issues are intergenerational.
Two outstanding independent reports, Early Intervention: The Next Steps (Graham Allen) and The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults (Frank Field) both make the case in a most cogent way for what needs to change. The fact that they have cross party support is a credit to the work of Ian Duncan Smith, both his understanding and personal commitment. Both are recommended for early adoption by the Cabinet Social Justice Committee (Ian Duncan Smith).
These reports outline both the depth of the inter-related issues, the social and economic benefits to be achieved by adopting the model and the methodology and route to implement systems in a swift and comprehensive way.
So its great that these issues are being publicly raised. However what seems to be lacking is positive leadership that shows what the future might hold. A different way of working, for sure, but perhaps Childrens Services could explore more effective ways of working with families. Maybe even the type of work that attracted people to work with children in the first place? We expect our families to make a leap of faith to work with us, isn’t it about time that we use courage ourselves to believe in what we can do in a new way ?