A three year trial of Caring Dads is being funded by Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services and Gandel Philanthropy.
Caring Dads aims to increase the safety and wellbeing of children and mothers by helping fathers to recognise the impact of their abusive behaviour, stop that behaviour and improve their parenting.
Led by Kids First Australia, the trial is being run across three sites in North East Melbourne (Kids First and UnitingCare ReGen), Inner West Melbourne (Anglicare and IPC Health) and Inner Gippsland (Anglicare).
Caring Dads is a Canadian intervention program for fathers (including biological and stepfathers) who have neglected or physically and/or emotionally abused their children, exposed their children to family violence or are deemed high-risk for these behaviours.
The program consists of a 17-week, empirically-based, manualised group intervention for fathers alongside contact with mothers in an effort to ensure safety and freedom from coercion. It also involves ongoing collaborative work with referrers and with other professionals involved with men’s families.
The group component of Caring Dads combines elements of parenting, fathering, family violence and child protection practice to enhance the safety and well-being of children. Program principles emphasise the need to enhance men’s motivation, promote child-centred fathering, address men’s ability to engage in respectful, non-abusive co-parenting with children’s mothers, recognise that children’s experience of trauma will impact the rate of possible change, and work collaboratively with other service providers to ensure that children benefit (and are not unintentionally harmed) as a result of father’s participation in intervention.
Caring Dads was developed in Canada by Katreena Scott, Ph.D. C. Psych., Claire Crooks, Ph.D. C. Psych., Tim Kelly, Executive Director of Changing Ways, and Karen Francis, Ph.D. C. Psych in collaboration with Canadian child protective services, family violence intervention programs, children’s mental health agencies, women’s advocates, centres for children and families involved in the justice system, family resource agencies and probation and parole services.
The University-community partnership at the heart of this program means Caring Dads is based on a solid foundation of both theory and practice. An independent evaluation of this program is being undertaken by the University of Melbourne in conjunction with the University of Toronto.
More information including upcoming programs is available at the Caring Dads website.