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Dads and Child Care

Today fathers tend to be more involved in the day to day routines of their children's lives than ever before. The options of working from home and more flexible employment often provide fathers with greater opportunities to be more involved in child care services. Certainly, child care facilities see more dads dropping off and collecting their children.

However, does this mean that dads want to be more involved in your child care services?

A prudent provider will be sensitive to dads who are stretched for time already with work schedules and outside demands, and look for ways of embracing a greater role for fathers in children's lives while respecting their time and other commitments.

Can you make dads more informed about their child's day without giving them a 15 minute blow by blow description of the child's day when they collect them? How can you support and make them feel welcome and valued?

A poll in Britain asked dads to give their feedback on what makes them feel welcomed, valued and an integral part of their child's life in regards to the child care center. This is what was found:

Fathers want to be acknowledged by name. Fathers feel this to be normal professional behavior in any workplace.

Email photos to dads. Most workplaces have computers, and this helps dads to have a window into their child's day and can be looked at in lunch breaks or a quiet moment in the day. It is wise to solicit an ok from fathers before embarking on this as some workplaces may frown upon the receipt of personal emails.

Make tasks clear. Ensure dads are aware of and confident with their role in tasks such as arrival and departure. Collecting bags and belongings, signing sheets, taking the time to let the child say his goodbyes to playmates, etc. can be daunting to anyone who doesn't pick up a child on a regular basis. Allow that fathers possess some common sense and avoid patronizing them. However, do explain the procedures that are unique to your center.

Informal conversations. Child care is a female dominated workplace. Fathers report disliking flirty, coy or shy behavior. Be professional in developing informal friendly conversations which briefly describe the child's day and then allow the fathers to ask further questions or move on with the rest of their commitments.

Acknowledge fathers efforts in newsletters. Acknowledge ways in which dads make contributions; not only to the center and their families, but to the community. Achievements such as the local fireman who fought hard in recent community brushfires, the dad who completed (or won) a triathalon, or the father whose business just opened a second location should be recognized.

Communication of Newsletters. Where parents are separated or dads are travelling for long periods with work, send copies (post or email) of newsletters to Dads.

Ask specifially for fathers' feedback. Surveys can include a section for feedback from both mothers and fathers so dads feel their opinions are welcome.
Hold specific events for dads. Here is where you realy need to be creative to ensure dads feel welcome in the but also that their time is valued. A Saturday dad's barbeque can infringe on family time or other commitments. Think of events which are easy to attend and can provide additional benefits such as a coffee night meeting or a weekday breakfast that can provide some business networking time.

Put male oriented literature in your lobby or entranceway. Are there ways that literature and resources can appeal more directly to dads?

Posters and pictures on the wall. It's important that fathers see themselves reflected in the center.

Ask More Questions on Enrolment Forms about Specific Members of the Family. This allows you to gain a greater picture of the whole family and their roles in raising the child.

Employ more male staff. As hard as it is for the industry to attract male workers, this holds a key place, not only in making dads feel connected with the center, but also in providing additional father figures in the lives of the children.

Communicate equally with dads. Never assume that certain information is for the mother only. This includes delicate situations such as babies with diaper rash or toddlers showing their bottoms. While at times you may feel more comfortable discussing this with mothers, it is important to maintain professionalism in communicating information equally.

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