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12-1 Improving the Quality of Relationships that Early Childhood Education Services have with their Male Carer Clients Elaine Dyer & Geoff Bridgman Invited.

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Presentation on theme: "12-1 Improving the Quality of Relationships that Early Childhood Education Services have with their Male Carer Clients Elaine Dyer & Geoff Bridgman Invited."— Presentation transcript:

1 12-1 Improving the Quality of Relationships that Early Childhood Education Services have with their Male Carer Clients Elaine Dyer & Geoff Bridgman Invited Presentation Fathering Forum 23 March 2011 Families Commission

2 12-2 Why? The male contribution to domestic violence in New Zealand is very high High father engagement with their children’s development in the pre-school years lowers levels of family violence, aggression, divorce, and increases educational achievement, and social competence Participation rates of men in Early Childhood Education are very low

3 12-3 Violence Free Waitakere Focus on Fathering programme – providing raising awareness of the male parenting role and creating supportive interventions Awareness raising – FoF week, Photographic exhibition in a large mall of dads and kids, Dads Day Out Interventions – What did you do at work today Dad? ECE project Related projects: Toddler’s Day Out, Violence Free Begins with Me, Our Amazing Place

4 12-4 Aims To Identify the ways in which Early Childhood Education (ECE) services engage with their male clients (the “male carers”) of the children in their services To identify the gaps in ECE services which if addressed would improve the quality of engagement that male carers have with their children and with ECE services. To implement and evaluate a “father friendly” intervention approach with a small number of ECE services.

5 12-5 ECE Centre Survey Demographic questions – carers, children, staff, volunteers Activities and types of engagement – communication Resources, issues of safety Open ended questions around male carer engagement

6 12-6 Who responded? 15% of 120 centres so far have responded Full range of types – Kohanga Reo, Pacific Island Language ECE, Montesiori, Playcentre, Kindergarten, ECE centres – 20-120 children)

7 12-7 Where are the men? Less than 5% of all ECE teaching are men 61% of Centres definitely want to employ men, but think that parents are less keen (50%) “There are always going to be some parents who may question the role a male teacher may play in caring for their child” “When we employed a male teacher in the past we did have two families pull their children from our care”

8 12-8 Worried parents? “I would go out of my way to ensure that any concerns were addressed before the teacher began working for me - in other words I would consult with my families and reassure them that this person was the best applicant for the position.” “I think the parents would be surprised, but would also value the input a male staff member might have.” “I just don't whether parents are accepting....” “I think the parents would be more than happy for us to employ a Male staff member.”

9 12-9 What effect have men had? 89% really value a male presence. Two say that it’s the person, not the gender that’s most important. “the older boys thrive by having a male in the centre” “the response from the older children in having a male around is profound.” “some of the children like to go and see him (the cook) in the morning when they get here, rather than one of their day to day teachers.” “dads stick around longer and listen to stories that he tells them about what their children have been doing. The children have really warmed to him”. “male teachers are fantastic for the children and families”.

10 12-10 Engaging the men 61% think it’s a bit harder or much harder to engage men “ Not interested: “there’s not enough men”, they’re too busy with work and career”, “they’re not keen on meetings” “male carers tend to see [Playcentre training) as a huge obstacle” Male embarassment: “Shy, worried no other dads will be here - don't want to be the only male amongst all the females” “it makes them look soft” Female conspiracy: “mothers come to the evenings, etc, and leave dad looking after the kids..” “most the men were not even asked about this evening - their partners had made the decision that they would not be interested”

11 12-11 Centres are attractive to men because: they are “friendly, engaging”, “welcoming”, “inclusive” they recognise male strengths: they are “flexible”, “unique”, “acknowledging of difference” they use specific male engagement practices: “putting out equipment that attracts males”, “fish and chip nights”, “makings things with your child events”, “parent evenings”, “coming on trips”, “asking men to be involved”, “planning ahead so that dads,and mums, can take time off to for example attend a trip” they have a strong kaupapa, supportive management and team, clear systems, family based processes, whanaungatanga they have strong wairuatanga or spiritual practice

12 12-12 Who comes? Men are usually not present when a new child is introduced to the centre 21% of drop offs and pick-ups are done by men Two centres see no male carers, and another 4 have 10% or less male carers. Three centres have 45-50% male carers Centres with a male staff member (33%) don’t necessarily have more male carers. Being friendly seems to be best correlated with the presence of male carers

13 12-13 Male volunteers 21% of volunteers are male Many centres have no volunteers or just one. 50% have no male volunteers Three centres – a Kohanga Reo, a playcentre and a kindergarten have 30 or more volunteers Key male volunteer roles: gardening, security, maintenance, committee work, accounts, kaumatua, minister Restricted roles? Women: Teachers, Support Staff, Kitchen Staff Men: Handy Man, Gardener, Security Roles playing/working with children “rough and tumble programme” very rare.

14 12-14 Activities Good male attendance at Xmas parties, Father’s day events, parent evenings, maintenance working parties, social events Not so good for excursions, parent education evenings Kohanga Reo men are more engaged in classroom work and excursions

15 12-15 Conversations with men never once a) short hello, goodbye conversations0% b) 'male talk' - sport, work, facts about the world14%21% c) discussion of an incident report7%21% d) what Manu/Suzie did today in your ECE centre0% e) Manu/Suzie's strengths interests and abilities0% f) general discussion of the child's notes and profile6%0% g) areas of possible engagement with the service8%15% h) how the service could work better for men46%8%

16 12-16 Communication more to female equally to both a) When emails and/or letters get sent out, who are they addressed to?27%73% b) When carers are phoned, who do you speak to ?71%29% c) When a child is sick, who will you call?71%29%

17 12-17 Newsletters, notices never a) stories designed to appeal to male interests?60% b) stories about the experiences of men in the role of carer?57% c) requests for male volunteer involvement in ECE service?43% d) pictures of male carers interacting with children?33% e) articles written by men?73% f) surveys of male opinion about the ECE service?93%

18 12-18 Resources for men not visible a) a range of reading resources on children targeted at men e.g. Men as carers, men's health information, parenting for men60% b) a range of play areas where men feel comfortable interacting with children e.g. tool work benches, dinghy, sandpit, vegetable garden7% c) pictures of male carers interacting with children33% d) environments which encourage energetic physical play0% e) notices of events and volunteer roles of interest to male carers on notice boards33%

19 12-19 Safety for men very unsafe very safe a) The way that staff dress - e.g. revealing or inappropriate clothing13%60% b) The visual safety of the environment - being able to be seen by staff7%67% c) The open door and child privacy policies of the service7%67% d) The service's practice/policy around safe touching7%60%

20 12-20 What can be done? How friendly are we? 27% “respectful”, 33% “friendly”, 40% “very friendly” More appealing information targeted at male care giving roles. Newsletters more appropriate More readings left out for dads to pick up and get good ideas from Put our books and resources in a more prominent place for them to see Advertise in newsletters the resources that we do have that they could borrow Ask for more help with community projects that could promote male carers

21 12-21 What can be done? More “male” discussions. Think more about our environment and making it more male friendly. Give more authority to our men, and strength to our teachers to deal with these difficult issues The support male teachers and carers need should be outlined in policy, procedures and requirements for the safety..along with the Police vetting to keep parents and the community feel safe Ads on the TV during the rugby or other sports that support Dads at ECE Big billboards that show dads/male carers their child at an ECE centre

22 12-22 Mens Survey many men play a major role if not the major role in the care of their children. many men are very busy with their work the vast majority spend no time at ECE centres other than in dropping off and picking up many are not entirely comfortable at the Centre and have no interest in volunteering. a quarter do volunteer time, but this is confined to governance, fundraising, equipment and maintenance work and not to volunteer work that involves interactions with children. one respondent did drawing and writing, another would like to do so, while third said he would like to cook at the centre. One respondent said: “I don’t think I have anything to offer.”

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