Building a picture of fathers in the family justice system in England | Nuffield Foundation

New research helps to build a more complete picture of the fathers who lose access to their children because of concerns about child neglect or their ability to provide safe care.

A Nuffield-funded research partnership between the University of East Anglia and Lancaster University has published the first analysis of fathers’ involvement in care and recurrent care proceedings in England.

The researchers analysed anonymised family court records for more than 73,000 fathers appearing in care proceedings between 2010/11 and 2017/18. In addition, the researchers conducted a survey of fathers in 18 local authorities and captured rich life histories through in-depth, longitudinal interviewing.

As the family courts continue to struggle with very high volumes of care cases, this research complements existing research on birth mothers, by uncovering fathers’ histories, their struggles with parenthood, but also what factors help fathers recover their parenting capacity.

What our research demonstrates is the significance and impact of relationships and ‘linked lives’ for improving practice in response to recurrence. This is the case in terms of explaining patterns and trends and in terms of understanding experience and trajectories into and out of recurrence. If recurrence is a relational problem, then the implication is that the response must also engage fully with, and attend to relationships, in all their complexity. Whilst there is a prevailing, or renewed interest in relationship based social work, it is arguably the case that this has yet to be realised in the context of supporting parents, and particularly fathers, in first and repeat care proceedings. Our findings suggest that working with recurrent fathers requires professional curiosity and time to understand their relational histories. It also requires a willingness and confidence to hold the combination of risks, resources that most present, and the rehabilitative challenges they are up against. These findings are relevant not only to social workers, but to other statutory and voluntary sector practitioners.

‘UP AGAINST IT’ Understanding Fathers’ Repeat Appearance in Local Authority Care Proceedings

Download the Research Briefing: ‘UP AGAINST IT’ Understanding Fathers’ Repeat Appearance in Local Authority Care Proceedings

Read more at source: HERE

Full research report can be downloaded: HERE

One thought on “Building a picture of fathers in the family justice system in England | Nuffield Foundation

  1. Very useful thank you. I was surprised by the number of fathers who were attending/or part of recurring care proceedings with the same partner, I had thought it would have been less. The research highlights that there is so much more scope for working with fathers and its everyone’s responsibility that they have the opportunity to access support and hopefully reduce their recurrence in court. It would be great to get to see if a LA can commit to start implementing your recommendations so that we can see what difference it can make.


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