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Keywords:

  • early intervention;
  • Family Nurse Partnership;
  • fathers;
  • health and social care;
  • prevention;
  • social work

Abstract

This paper seeks to add to the literature on working with fathers by focusing on early intervention. It draws on research into fathers involved in a home visitation service delivered by the Family Nurse Partnership in England and evaluates the men's experiences of the intervention. The vulnerability of fathers was striking and many were helped to develop their practical skills and confidence in caring for their babies. The intervention was effective because of the quality time that was invested in developing relationships with fathers (as well as mothers), the focus on their strengths as well as areas for improvement and the skilled, therapeutically oriented, holistic approach through which the service was delivered. The ‘early’ nature of the help was crucial to its success because of how it so effectively tapped into the men's redefinition of themselves as caring fathers during pregnancy and following the birth. We argue that there is important learning here for social care and health services in general about how to engage men and promote fathers' capacities to care for their children.