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May 6, 2010

Waitakere Dads Lukewarm About Support

A Father & Child survey of 124 dads attending the Waitakere City Toddler Day Out this year, found that a majority felt their needs as a dad are well catered for in Waitakere City.

However, only half said that they’d had face-to-face contact with a Well Child Health provider, such as Plunket. Home-based Well Child Health services are available to all babies and their parents.

More than three quarters of dads felt Waitakere supported early parenting and families well, but only 57% thought new dads were well supported. Even fewer thought the city did well for separated or solo dads.

Fathers with an only child under one felt especially frustrated with a lack of inclusion, and rated support for families much higher than support for dads. They were clearly appreciative of what is being done to keep baby healthy and put families on track, but about half of these dads appeared to have been effectively kept out of the loop by the agencies involved.

It seems that although family service providers may be more aware of fathers and their important contribution to child development, they still do not make enough effort to meet with them and engage them.

There were some signs that this had improved over recent years. A father with a child under one was almost twice as likely to report having had face-to-face contact with a Well Child Health provider than a father with a child aged three or over.

The survey highlighted the importance of that face-to-face contact. Fathers who had such contact with some of the leading agencies generally felt much better supported than their peers who had not, and seem to have generally better access to information.

Dads who engaged with Playcentres stood out as being significantly happier with their support as a dad, and 73% of them said they feel encouraged to participate in their child’s early education.

Perhaps surprisingly, separated fathers felt better supported than those living with the mother of the child. Only 30% thought they were not supported as new dads, 10% felt families are not supported, 11% thought there are not enough fun events for dads and kids and only 9% thought there is not enough information about early parenting – the lowest rates for any group analysed.

Of the partnered fathers, 44% felt unsupported as new dads, 21% felt families are not supported, 33% would like more fun events and 26% could do with more early parenting information.

Survey conducted by Father and Child Trust at Violence Free Waitakere’s Toddler Day Out, in collaboration with Geoff Bridgeman and with support from Glen Jones.

Full report here (pdf)

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