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ERIC Number: ED506613
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 73
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 31
Recognising Fathers: A National Survey of Fathers Who Have Children with Learning Disabilities
Towers, Christine
Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (NJ1)
The "Recognising Fathers" research began in 2005 in response to hearing from mothers and fathers that fathers often felt marginalised in the process of arranging care and support for their children with learning disabilities. At the same time it was apparent that national family policy was indicating a growing recognition of the important contribution fathers make to family life and that strategies need to be developed to support them in this. The research began with a qualitative study, to better understand the experiences of fathers, which involved a literature review, discussions with organisations and services providing support to families, and in-depth interviews with fathers. This research highlighted significant, yet largely hidden, issues that need to be considered when looking at support for families that include children with learning disabilities. A national survey was carried out in 2008 to: (1) test out and validate the findings from the previous qualitative study; (2) explore further some of the findings from the previous study: for example, the impact on fathers' paid employment; and (3) capture the experiences of a broader group of fathers than participated in the interviews and to include non resident fathers, stepfathers, foster and adoptive fathers. The survey was open to fathers in the UK who had one child, or more, with a learning disability aged up to 19 years. Considerable effort was made to recruit fathers from a wide variety of social, economic, ethnic, cultural and geographical backgrounds. A total of 251 fathers who met the criteria completed the survey. Among the key findings were: (1) 60% of fathers in the survey felt they made more effort to spend time with their child because of their disabilities; (2) Over half of fathers felt that members of their extended family had found it hard to accept their child with disabilities; (3) Almost 40% of fathers did not have a good friend they could talk to about their situation; (4) Half of the fathers felt their physical health had been affected: there was a strong interplay between stress, mental ill-health and physical ill-health; (5) Fathers are making significant changes to their work because of the needs of their children with learning disabilities: some are making a variety of changes during their working life; and (6) 75% of fathers were not aware that they were entitled to unpaid parental leave: only 14 fathers had taken advantage of this entitlement. The report concludes with recommendations. Three appendices are included: (1) Membership of the project advisory group; (2) Publicity flyer; and (3) Good practice guidance for practitioners. (Contains 2 footnotes.) [Support for this project was provided by the Waterside Trust and the Mental Health Foundation. For related reports, see ED506614, ED506615, and EJ803479.]
Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities. Sea Containers House 20 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9QB, UK. Tel: +44-20-7803-1100; Fax: +44-20-7803-1111; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Practitioners
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom