The rhetoric vs. the reality in child care and protection: ideology and practice in working with fathers
Within child care and protection, practitioners can be paralysed by a fundamental gap between the rhetoric and the reality in engaging fathers in their children’s care. In an earlier paper we argued that there is a lack of an effective framework to guide practice with fathers in child care and protection work. We examined how health visitors and social workers could begin to assess how fathers could be categorized as either (or both) a risk or an asset to the child. Based on a review of the literature we now explore the limitations of current models of practice and trace the theoretical strands that influence them, drawing from the legal framework, attachment theory and models for anti-oppressive practice. We then highlight messages for practice with fathers for health care professionals involved in child protection. The working context for this paper is Scotland, although we believe that the ideas may be extrapolated to other geographical areas.