"So far, dozens of children have been removed from the Child Protection Register and have not needed to be placed in local authority care.Families have stayed together."
The Caring Dads programme, which until now has run in Anglesey and Gwynedd, has already prevented several dozens of children from having to be taken into care, as fathers rebuild positive relationships with their families.
Now, the scheme is expanding to help dads in Conwy and Denbighshire develop healthy father-child relationships, so their children can continue to live safely at home within the family.
And the call has gone out to health visitors, midwives, social services, GPs and other agencies to refer fathers for the free programme. Fathers can also refer themselves directly.
Caring Dads is run by the domestic abuse support service Gorwel, partnered with Caring Dads Canada. Gorwel is managed by housing association GrŵpCynefin.
The Conwy programme will launch on 2 July in Llandudno Junction, and the Denbighshire programme will start on 24 July in Rhyl. Each comprises 17 sessions.
Programme leader, therapeutic social worker Paul Jones, said that participants so far had ranged from a first-time father aged 17, to a father in his sixties.
“They also come from across the social spectrum. Participants have included a homeless man and a university-educated, professionally-qualified father. In our latest cohort, a total of 26 men were referred, whose behaviours were impacting 48 children and 22 women,” he said.
Caring Dads aims to increase participants’ awareness of attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that form father-child relationships, increase their responsibility for abusive and neglectful behaviour and develop awareness of child-centred fathering.
Research indicates that effective engagement with fathers increases the positive contribution they have on their children’s lives. This in turn results in a range of emotional, physical and cognitive benefits for their children.
Paul added: “So far, dozens of children have been removed from the Child Protection Register and have not needed to be placed in local authority care. Families have stayed together.
“Obviously the safety and welfare of the children is paramount, but you cannot ignore the fact that it can cost £1,000 per week to keep one child in care, and for a child with special requirements it can be between £3,000 and 4,000 per week. This is taxpayers’ money via the local authority.
“Caring Dads is building a really good reputation. The courts like it and make referrals, and our expansion into Conwy and Denbighshire has received a grant from the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.
“We get a steady stream of referrals from agencies in North West Wales, because they have seen it keeps together the families they are working with. Now, we’re starting to publicise it among agencies in Conwy and Denbighshire.”
Arfon Jones, the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, said: “Caring Dads is a really important initiative which does a great deal of work helping fathers reconnect with their children.
“It has proved very worthwhile in Gwynedd and Anglesey as it is keeping many children out of care and providing benefit to them and to their fathers and I’m delighted to see that it is now being rolled out in Conwy and Denbighshire.
“It is vital for children to have positive parental role models and it also benefits the dads in helping them face up to their responsibilities and giving them the chance to play a part in their children’s lives.”
All participants are assessed to decide their suitability for the programme.
For more information on the Caring Dads programme, including details of how to take part, contact Paul Jones or Megan Williams on: 01248 750903; email email@example.com; or visit the Caring Dads website at www.pauljonesisw.co.uk