Working with fathers remain focus of Northumberland Strategic Safeguarding Partnership

Councillors welcomed the fact that working with fathers remains a focus for the new body responsible for safeguarding children in Northumberland.

By Ben O'Connell
Friday, 6th December 2019, 3:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 12:57 pm
Northumberland County Council's HQ in Morpeth.
Northumberland County Council's HQ in Morpeth.

This area remains one of the key priorities of the new Northumberland Strategic Safeguarding Partnership.

This organisation has replaced the Northumberland Safeguarding Children Board, whose final annual report – which actually covers the 18 months from April 2018 to September 2019 – was presented to a meeting of the county council’s family and children’s services committee on Thursday, December 5.

Coun Scott Dickinson said the priority around fathers was ‘really important’, adding: “A lot of my casework is with frustrated fathers who are trying to use the system.”

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Coun Wayne Daley, the cabinet member for children’s services, agreed, saying: “It’s important to have a positive male role model. All the evidence shows that children need a positive relationship in their life.

“In a system which sometimes calibrates fathers out of it, the fathers can sometimes switch off.”

The report, outlining the new partnership’s priorities for the current year, says: ‘In Northumberland, since 2009, there have been a number of cases where the role of the father or significant males has not been clearly understood.’

It adds: ‘It is important to note that most fathers want to have active input with parenting their children and most children want contact with their fathers.

‘The need to engage fathers more in the safeguarding process is one of the most pressing reasons for policy and practice to address and challenge the risk of gender inequalities and gendered biases among agencies.

‘Men need to be regarded as core to assessment and planning for children’s needs, whether they have parental responsibility or not; this approach should be embedded within all assessments of children’s needs, early help provision and safeguarding.’

Coun Dickinson also thanked Paula Mead, the former board’s chairman, who was unable to attend the meeting, for her work over a number of years ‘from a point where we weren’t doing as well as we are now’.

Coun Daley added: “There’s lots of really, really good work going on and a lot of it goes unseen, but it’s having an impact in our communities.”