Where I am in Wales with my son, it really feels like spring has come a little early, with sunshine, blue skies and even some early daffodils. However, I am still looking at this screen as rather a busy bee!!!
One thing I have been doing has been some research into social work and single fathers. While it would clearly be boring for me to go into this in too much detail, a couple of points are hopefully interesting.
Firstly, the research that is out there suggests single fathers have not really been included within research into how social work is experienced by children and their parents and families. Does this reflect single fathers’ relative invisibility in welfare debates more generally? None of the research I found was from the UK!
Secondly, the research that has been done suggests that social workers did not effectively understand the needs or strengths of single fathers, and did not effectively engage with them. The research portrayed that the views of social workers towards single fathers were at least partly based on common gender stereotypes and that they most likely unintentionally alienated single fathers from suitable social work support.
Engagement with single fathers was not great and supported offered tended to follow gendered lines, with single fathers assessed as needing support to return to work for example. The research painted a picture that single fathers experienced challenging systems and practices when engaging with social work and could experience social work as alienating and unattentive to their needs. Having stated this, it is important to say that pockets of more inclusive practice were found!
As single fathers, we sometimes stray from the norms of society, which still places the burden of care for children on mothers. This means we can sometimes be othered and seen as different as men and as parents, leading to alienation and being left out. Have you experienced this, in life or in your contact with social work?
Social work with single fathers is clearly an area that needs to be researched further. Such research needs to look into how social workers can be supported to effectively work with single fathers and how single fathers can effectively engage with social work support. Any future research should ask questions of what changes can be anticipated if it is undertaken and how can these changes be taken forward for the benefit of single fathers and their children.
Do take care all and please do share your views and experiences on this important topic.