Stopping Family Violence hosted the first Caring Dads Facilitator Training in WA on June 12th to 13th at Technology Park, Bentley. The intervention program is for fathers (including biological, step, common-law) who have physically or emotionally abused or neglected their children, or exposed their children to domestic violence. The training provided an opportunity for service providers to come together and engage with facilitator training that shifts the system’s focus of accountability and visibility back onto the perpetrator, with emphasis on his fathering.
Caring Dads was delivered by the program’s creators Dr Katreena Scott (University of Toronto) and MBCP facilitator Tim Kelly (Changing Ways) to 25 participants from various WA stakeholder organisations. The program consists of a 17-week, empirically-based, manualised group interventions for fathers, systematic outreach to mothers to ensure safety and freedom from coercion and ongoing, collaborative case management with referrers and with other professionals involved with the men’s families.
The group component of Caring Dads combines elements of parenting, fathering, domestic violence and child protection practice to increase the safety and well-being of children. Program principles focus on various areas of perpetrator intervention:
- 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.
- Collaborative communication and work with other service providers to ensure that children will benefit (and are not unintentionally harmed) as a result of the father’s participation in the program.
Caring Dads training helps to further develop facilitators’ skills in:
- The ability to work with unmotivated men
- Knowledge of child development and parenting strategies
- Sensitivity to woman abuse and its impact on children and the mother’s parenting
- Skill in cognitive behavioural therapy
- Forging system partnerships and collaboration that may be necessary to ensure strength in the co-facilitation team.
Participants in the WA version of Caring Dads training expressed recognition of the real ‘gap’ that exists in the State in terms of services for men and fathers who perpetrate violence against women and children, and emphasised the value of implementing the Caring Dads program. Several men’s behaviour program facilitators noted the applicability of the skills learned from their Caring Dads training to their current practice. Furthermore, the need for greater communication, information-sharing, coordinated case management and partnerships to be formed across the various women’s and perpetrator services to aid such an implementation was highlighted. However, several participants also recognised that shifting the focus to the perpetrator requires a level of systemic change and substantial support from key stakeholders.
Caring Dads training has now been conducted in four Australian states, with a research trial currently underway in Melbourne. The trial, a partnership between the Children’s Protection Society (CPS), UnitingCare, ReGen, Anglicare Victoria, IPC Health, University of Toronto and Changing Ways (Canada) is being funded by the Victorian Government and will enable the pilot adaptation of Caring Dads for fathers whose behaviour exposes their children to harm because of neglect, physical and emotional abuse or domestic violence. At the conclusion of the research trial, results will be shared with the wider community which Stopping Family Violence is enthusiastic to examine.
If you missed out on this training opportunity but are interested in learning more about Caring Dads visit their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest in the training should we have opportunity to provide it in WA again.