For enquiries about The POLICY RESEARCH BUREAU's past work,
Engaging Fathers in Preventive Services:
Fathers and Family Centres


This qualitative study, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, explored the barriers to the participation and engagement of fathers in preventive services, focussing in particular on fathers’ involvement in family centres. Family centres constitute an important aspect of mainstream preventive services for families with young children, but have traditionally worked with mothers and children to the exclusion of fathers. The project investigated the reasons for fathers’ relative lack of involvement in family centre activities, and assessed whether and how there might be scope for promoting their greater participation.

What did the research focus on?

The study aimed to explore factors related to individual families’ circumstances as well as those related to different models of family centre. For example, we wanted to find out how centres could be made more accessible and acceptable to parents of both sexes, as well as exploring the implications of attempting to make centres more accessible to men.

What did the research involve?

The study used qualitative methods involving in-depth interviews conducted by the project team. A sample of 12 family centres was selected to reflect the range of different types of centre across the country. Within each centre, 3 ‘sets’ of informants were interviewed, each set comprising one mother using the centre, her partner, and the family centre worker who has closest involvement with the family. Where lone fathers were encountered we also wanted to include them in the research. Thus in total we will aimed to interview approximately 108 individuals: 36 mothers, 36 fathers and 36 centre workers.

Timescale and final product

The project ran from April 1998 to July 1999. A report was submitted to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in Summer 1999, after which the findings were published and made widely available in both full and summary forms.

Ghate D, Shaw C and Hazel N (2000) Engaging fathers in preventive services: Fathers and family centres. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation and York YPS

Ghate D, Shaw C and Hazel N (2000) Findings No. 330: How family centres are working with men. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Ghate D, Shaw C and Hazel N (2000) Fathers at the centre: Family centres, fathers and working with men. London: Policy Research Bureau. (Published online)

Hazel N, Ghate D and Shaw C (2000) Briefing paper for policy makers and service providers: Fathers and family support services. London: Policy Research Bureau

See Publications for further details.

We welcome the opportunity to talk to those involved in providing services to parents about the findings of the research.

Last updated July 2004