Working with single and non-resident fathers to get the best outcome for children - Online learning day - access the sessions flexibly during 17/18/19 October 2022. Real-time Q&A with presenters - 19 October, 3:00pm

17/18/19 October 2022

online learning day


Lee Sobo-Allen
Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Leeds Beckett University
Simon Howarth
Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Birmingham


October 17, 2022


October 19, 2022

The focus of this online learning day is to consider how social work practice can more effectively include single and non-resident fathers in family assessments, looking at these fathers as potential protectors and resources for their children.


Often, the expectation is that caring and lone parenthood are overwhelmingly the roles – and responsibilities – of mothers. Further, fathers may be seen as a problem or a risk to their children. This approach can have two negative outcomes: first, that fathers are invisible in discussions relating to their children, and without a recognised role in their children’s lives. And, second, that an unreasonable responsibility is placed upon mothers.


In parallel with practice, there is little academic research on the experiences of single and non-resident fathers. With increasing numbers of children being referred to children’s services, the potential exclusion of most fathers is a significant issue. Practitioners do not always challenge gender stereotypes and, in some cases, may reinforce them within social work practice. Fathers can be regarded as less in need, or less deserving, of support than mothers are.


When fathers take on the role of single parents, they ‘cross’ into areas of life which are  female dominated, for example, nurseries. Theory around ‘borderwork’ and ‘border crossing’ can be helpful in analysing and explaining men’s experiences. This extends to understanding men’s grief when they lose regular contact with their children. A study undertaken a few years ago by the Family Rights Group was prompted by an increasing number of calls received from distraught non-resident fathers whose children had been taken into care, but had neither been involved nor informed.


Parenting styles may differ between mothers and fathers, but it does not mean that a father has a parenting deficit. So how can social workers and other professionals adopt a more open approach to fathers? How can practice and systems be changed to include fathers and to value their input to their children’s lives, creating better outcomes for children?


This learning day aims to look at how a father’s role is viewed within society, and to unpick how professional services react in particular to single and non-resident fathers. It will consider the experiences of men in the context of social work and other services (eg housing, education, health, criminal justice), and how to develop better practice for engaging with these two groups of fathers. This will specifically include how to include single and non-resident fathers in family assessments.

The sessions will focus upon social work with single and non-resident fathers. There is a dearth of social work research or practice guidance which explores the experiences of single or non-resident fathers within the context of family social work, so we need to start to explore how we can work more sensitively and collaboratively with both groups.

Both single and non-resident fatherhood raise challenges for socially constructed gendered norms, our perceptions of masculinity, and how children and families social work is practiced. Key practice features of assessment and engagement will be discussed and suggestions for developing and improving practice will be put forwards.

The presenters have published papers, and presented at conferences, on how single and non-resident fathers are perceived in society and included within safeguarding and child protection practice.

Delegate fee:

 £105+ VAT = £126

*Team of 3 £295+ VAT = £354

*Team of 5 £475+ VAT = £570

For any queries, including requesting a fee for a larger group, please telephone  0115 9163104

Booking Terms and Conditions

  • Delegates will not be able to cancel their places after materials have been e-mailed out (one week before they are able to access the sessions)
  • Places must be paid for prior to materials being e-mailed to the delegate
  • Delegates may cancel their booking prior to materials being e-mailed out, less an administration fee of 25%
  • Substitutions will be accepted but these must be notified in writing
  • Due to the significant discounts offered, team bookings are non-cancellable
  • Cancellations should be made in writing to and will be acknowledged by return

Confirmation of booking:

Your booking will be confirmed (and invoiced) by e-mail.  You will be e-mailed a link to access learning sessions, together with outline information on the training.

The online training sessions will be available for a period of three days (17/18/19 October 2022)

If you do not receive such acknowledgement, please contact Central Conference Consultants Ltd on 0115 916 3104.

Simon Howarth

  • Currently a Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Birmingham, teaching BA and MA programmes and engaged in research projects
  • Previously a Principal Social Worker, overseeing the professional needs and development of all social workers, and leading on key practice issues
  • As a front line social worker, he specialised in a number of key areas including the legal journey of the child, neglect, sexual exploitation, physical abuse, engaging those considered challenging or hard to engage, and a variety of specialist assessments such as parenting and sibling assessments

Lee Sobo-Allen

  • Currently a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Leeds Beckett University
  • Held previous Social Work Lecturer roles at the universities of Bradford, Huddersfield and Leeds
  • As a practicing social worker, he specialised in child protection, and also worked with children with disabilities and adults with learning difficulties
  • Lee is currently working on his PhD at Cardiff University, looking at social workers placing children with non-resident fathers during care proceedings.
  • Lee has also contributed to many international social work conferences focussing on single and non-resident fathers.



Where do fathers fit in?

  • What the research says
  • Legal basis
  • Statistics
  • Barriers to engagement
  • Practice as child-centred


Theoretical concepts underlying the role of fathers

  • Borderwork
  • Emotional regime
  • Caring masculinities
  • Continuation of traditional gender roles


Effective engagement with fathers

  • How do we start to understand fathers
  • Issues of vulnerability
  • Gender-sensitive social work
  • Fathers as risk and resource
  • Tips for positive engagement


Undertaking family assessments

  • Current issues
  • Attitudes and narratives of professionals
  • Wider organisational influences
  • Tips for good assessment


(approximately one hour)

Q&A session with both presenters in real time will be held at 3pm on 19 October 2022.

  • Children and family social workers
  • Children’s charities
  • Schools – senior leadership (including safeguarding leads), teachers, teaching assistants, school attendance officers, pastoral care services, school nurses
  • Education welfare officers
  • Educational psychologists
  • Youth services
  • Youth justice services
  • Criminal justice services
  • Domestic abuse services
  • Services working with fathers
  • Children’s mental health services including CAMHS
  • Mental health services supporting parents
  • NHS safeguarding leads
  • Specialist services working with children who have behavioural problems
  • Housing services





Anyone attending from Scotland or Northern Ireland should be aware that any legal & guidance references are generally English and Welsh policy.



0115 9163104