Kids First CEO, Ms Aileen Ashford has hailed the Victorian State Budget allocation of $85 million funding to hold perpetrators of family violence to account, and the ongoing funding to continue Kids First’s Caring Dads Program as major advancements in addressing family violence.
“While the acute need to address family violence is universally acknowledged within our society, and our sector, few organisations are tackling the issue of the impact violence has on children,” Ms Ashford said.
“Caring Dads is built around the critical assumption that working with fathers is integral to ending violence against women and children.”
An Australian first, Caring Dads is an evidence informed, 17-week early intervention program piloted by Kids First. It engages fathers who have committed or are at risk of committing family violence. The program focuses on the affect that fathers’ violent behaviour has on their child and child’s mother, encouraging responsibility for actions and developing skills in parenting.
Ms Ashford said that preliminary research into Caring Dad’s effectiveness has identified both mothers and fathers reported positive change in the fathers’ parenting and a reduction in hostile reactive behaviour.
“The University of Melbourne is independently evaluating Caring Dads and of the participants they surveyed, most said they now had practical tools to improve their fathering. They described examples of situations they usually struggled with and are now actively shifting their interaction with their children,” said Ms Ashford.
One anonymous father who had participated in Caring Dads described his mindset shift.
“One of the main things was to change our way of thinking about our children's mother. That really worked for me. That made me realise some of the habits that I'd formed were very, very negative and I've seen it in my children, the way they're treating their mother . . .”
Kids First, a leading provider of educational, family and support services for children, young people and families in Melbourne, adapted the Caring Dads program from Canada. The 2019/20 State Budget announcement comes after a three-year trial of the program, made possible through a $1m grant from Gandel Philanthropy and $4.6m investment by the State Government in 2016.
To date, around 270 men have participated in Caring Dads. The new funding will enable the program to be offered to more men as well as completing the evaluation which will provide strong evidence for the sector.
Clare Lombardi, Marketing & Communications Manager, Kids First
0427 181 778