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Family Statistics Should Take Better Account of Fathers

A new report has called on the Government to review how publicly-funded bodies collect data on families. It says that they currently risk failing millions of children because they typically gather such weak information about fathers

According to the report, which was published by the Fatherhood Institute, data on fathers who do not live full-time with their children is especially likely to be meagre or non-existent. Data collection is used to inform Government policy and therefore should capture today’s diversity of fathering.

The report recommends that fathers, such as birth, adoptive or ‘step’, should be differentiated: often these are lumped together. In addition, it recommends that separated fathers should be reclassified in terms of whether – and how much of the time – they live with their children: full-time co-resident, part-time co-resident or non-resident. Currently, these fathers are typically classed as ‘non-resident’ or even as childless, which doesn’t reflect the significant amount of time many of them spend with their children.

“Britain has sophisticated data collection systems for recording children’s health, educational progress and ethnic and other diversities,” explained Adrienne Burgess, Joint CEO of the Fatherhood Institute. “It is unacceptable that these systems fail to record the role that millions of fathers and father-figures play in their lives.”

“The Government should urgently review and update data-gathering methodologies in research, statistical and administrative datasets,” she added. “It should also examine practices in surgeries, hospitals, schools and social services that provide support to children and families. Fathers play a vital role in the day-to-day care of children. Today, four million children do not live full-time with both their birth parents. Public services should not be ignoring their dads.”

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