New, culturally adapted program aims to better serve London's Muslim community

The Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration (MRCSSI) has launched a cross-culturally adapted version of the Caring Dads program to foster healthy fathering practices and help prevent family violence in a way that is specific to the experiences of Muslim fathers.

"The journey of an immigrant father is different," said Mohammed Baobaid, the executive director of the MRCSSI. 

For years, the MRCSSI has helped individuals and families overcome challenges that impact their wellbeing. However, when it came to providing resources that aimed to address family violence, they were running into a crucial issue: service providers were not taking migration experiences and cultural differences into account. 

"When you look at any family violence intervention programs, they're all developed in a Western context with an individualistic model, but many immigrants coming to Canada are coming from collective backgrounds," Baobaid said.  

For Baobaid, that was enough reason to create a program that took those differences into account in order to better serve the Muslim community. 

Baobaid, alongside Dr. Katreena Scott, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's psychology department and one of the founders of Caring Dads, decided to adapt the original Caring Dads program to integrate the different lived experiences of Muslim fathers.

This version creates a space and opportunity to talk about pre-migration, migration, and post-migration experiences,
— Katreena Scott, one of the founders of Caring Dads

"There's material to help fathers reflect on how they develop healthy father-child relationships, when their culture and their childhood was so much different than their child's experience here in Canada," she added.  

Part of the program's focus is addressing family violence including gender-based violence and the connections that exist between violence against women and a child's experience of that violence, whether as a victim or a witness. 

"In Caring Dads there's an understanding that part of being a good dad is also having a respectful and non-abusive co-parenting relationship with the child's mother," Scott said. 

The Caring Dads program consists of a 17-week group therapy program, in which 10-15 fathers get together with a facilitator and learn tools to change patterns of abuse, increase child-centred fathering and promote healthy relationships with the child's mother.   

Baobaid says the culturally adapted program will be available in the fall at the MRCSSI and will offer sessions in both English and Arabic. 

He hopes that in the future the adapted version of Caring Dads can expand to other Muslim communities across the country. 

Do you want to know more about the Caring Dads Reporting System?

Caring Dads is fortunate to have an essential partnership with the University of Toronto!

An integral part of what makes this partnership notable includes the ability to provide reports on all of the Caring Dads groups running across the globe.

Facilitating a Caring Dads group entails the creation of three reports.  The three main areas of the Caring Dads Reporting System are:

1.     Facilitators/Agency feedback for each experience

2.     Fathers who have completed the group

3.     Final report written by facilitators for each father

 1. Facilitator Feedback on each group experience: This is the Facilitator Group Data submission.  On the Pro-portal of the Caring Dads website, group facilitators can access an online form to enter information on each round of Caring Dads groups they run.

 2. Fathers who have completed the group:  This is the Post Group Participant Survey. After each father has completed the 17-week group he is provided with a unique group code that he enters to access an online survey.  The father is then asked about his experience with the group and any changes in his behaviour.

3. Final report written by facilitators for each father:  After the 17-week program is finished the facilitators write a final report for each of the fathers who completes group.  The report includes information about what was covered as well as feedback for the fathers on each topic.  Facilitators also will indicate if they are worried about any risk the father may still pose to his family.  This report is then provided to the father, the referral source as well as it filed as documentation at the agency. *This information is not accessed by the University of Toronto and is housed confidentially at each agency who offers the program.


Why are these reports so important?

Caring Dads takes the information from the first two reports (Facilitator group data & Father’s surveys) and creates an automatic report to provide back to the agency.  This includes program outcome data that each agency can use to report back to funders as well as for quality assurance purposes.  Facilitators can learn from these reports to see areas for improvement as well as job satisfaction by seeing the impact they are having on their community.  This reporting also holds the Caring Dads accountable to ensure quality programming is being delivered to the service recipients (Children, Moms and Dads).

*For more information about the Caring Dads Reporting System please email: and include CDRS in the subject line.



Sarah WebbComment
Why Fathers are an Essential Target of Intervention to End Children’s Experiences of Violence and Abuse within the Home

A paper written by Dr. Katreena Scott *please see link to paper at bottom of this post

Dr. Scott’s Research Lab at The University of Toronto aims to reduce violence in family relationships and specifically focuses on violence perpetration in men and fathers. Dr. Scott is recognized internationally for her intervention work with abusive fathers and nationally for her research on effective interventions for intimate partner violence.

Today’s blog will highlights a paper written by Dr. Scott and make key connections to the Caring Dads program.  The theory behind the Caring Dads program is important to understand why we need to do this work.  Caring Dads is not just a 17 week group process but equally includes a mother contact component and critical case collaboration.  In addition to this, the four goals of the Caring Dads program are linked and connected to the safety of women and children. 

Have you ever wondered how improving the father-child relationship helps reduce re-occurrence of domestic violence?  How is this connected to the child’s mother?

Please review the chart below to understand the benefits of working with fathers and how Caring Dads strives to promote change in fathers’ parenting behaviours.



Strong and healthy father/child relationship – minimizes abuse and improves child outcomes

Goal 2 – Child-centred Fathering

Listening, Playing, Praising

Child Development, Child’s Identity

Ending Violence Against Women

Mother Contact

Case Collaboration

Support to Children’s Mothers

Takes the pressure off mom to be responsible for keeping herself safe (and her children) while work is being done to change the abusive behaviour with the father – *above slide shifting towards safer practice

Mother Contact – weekly throughout group

Case Collaboration – informed by what mom says

Emotional attachment between children and fathers – improves child outcomes

Goal 2 – Child-centred fathering , developing empathy, developing discrepancies (breaking the cycle of abuse)

Goal 3 - Taking Responsibility for Abusive Actions – CBT work to see different perspective

Accountability, contributing to child healing – helps children heal if father takes responsibility

Goal 3 – Taking Responsibility for Abusive Actions – CBT work to talk about abuse and make changes to parenting behaviour

Goal 4 – Rebuilding Trust

Fathers rebuild trust with children – how to talk to their kids about what happened

Fathers who leave one family seldom end their involvement with children in general – also move on to new families

Goal 2 – Child-centred Fathering , includes step-child relationship

Goal 4 – Planning for the Future (safety plan)

Case Collaboration

Potential to monitor and contain fathers during follow-up from the child protection, justice systems

Goal 4 – Planning for the Future (safety plan)

Stance: “If the child has to deal with him so should we”

Case Collaboration

Support fathers in deciding to, or in being ordered to limit their contact with their children

Goal 4 – Planning for the Future (safety plan)

What do we do if we are still worried about the fathers contact with his child? Do something about it.

Case Collaboration

Men who have engaged in service or more likely to continue to access services to be pro-social (lowers the risk)

Goal 1 – Engaging with men – gaining their trust, making a connection, creating hope that things can be better, hope that they can improve their relationship with their child, start to develop insight into cycle of abuse

Sarah WebbComment
Caring Dads in Estonia, Latvia & Slovenia

We’re excited to share some pictures from Dermot Brady & Elaine Gaskell-Mew , accredited Caring Dads Trainers currently working with our very first cohort of new Facilitators from Latvia, Slovenia and Estonia!

Dermot, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Kingston and St. George’s University of London and Elaine, Community Outreach Manager at St. Michael’s Fellowship are delivering the Facilitator Training in Riga, Latvia in partnership with Vaiter, a leading Estonian mental health NGO, and co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

Jean-Paul MoutonComment
Australian Tour

In November 2018 Australia hosted a series of Caring Dads Facilitator trainings in several locations including Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth!

Caring Dads co-creator and Lead Trainer, Dr. Katreena Scott traveled across the globe from Canada and joined forces with Australian trainers to deliver events in Melbourne and Brisbane connecting with professionals within those cities and further developing partnerships.

In addition to Katreena travelling to Australia, Caring Dads Community Manager, Sarah Webb tackled the long flight and co-trained in Sydney and Perth.

Here are a couple of pictures at the Sydney event which was hosted by Relationships Australia, New South Wales. Sarah co-trained with Monique Yeoman, Caring Dads Statewide Coordinator and Fiona Edwards, Caring Dads Team Leader both from Kids First Australia, Heidelberg Victoria Child and Family Centre.

Thanks to Andrew King and Relationships Australia for hosting this event!

Thanks to Andrew King and Relationships Australia for hosting this event!

Left to Right: Caring Dads Accredited Trainers Monique Yeoman, Sarah Webb and Fiona Edwards

Left to Right: Caring Dads Accredited Trainers Monique Yeoman, Sarah Webb and Fiona Edwards

Quintessential Opera House shot

Quintessential Opera House shot

The Sydney training was a dynamic and enthusiastic group of professionals working across the Domestic Violence Sector and included professionals from Men’s Behaviour Change groups, Women’s Advocate services, Family Mental Health services as well as included Andrew King, Practice Specialist and Community Education Manager at Relationships Australia. Andrew attended the two day training and humbly participated in the role plays and truly enhanced the learning with his expertise.  Andrew King is also a respected author of text books and training programs and has devoted a large part of his career to group work, working with men, fathering and domestic violence.

Sarah then traveled across Oz to Perth in Western Australia where she co-trained an event with Damian Green, CEO of Stopping Family Violence.  Damian Green is a Specialist in FDV policy and practice, with particular interest in perpetrator interventions and men’s behaviour change. This event was hosted by CentreCare in sunny Perth.

Here are a few pictures of the Perth event:

CentreCare, People Making Time for People, Perth

CentreCare, People Making Time for People, Perth

Damian Green and Sarah Webb

Damian Green and Sarah Webb

Sarah talking about the Problem Solving for Parents steps

Sarah talking about the Problem Solving for Parents steps

Downtown Perth!

Downtown Perth!

The participants in Perth were a compassionate and eager group of professionals who worked hard over the two days as well as used humour to make the training fun.  This event was hosted by the kind people at CentreCare who provided a welcoming venue and allowed us to take over their lunch room!  And last but not least, the Perth event would not have been a success without the huge support of Sharon Tanner, Executive Assistant at Stopping Family Violence who did a lot of work behind the scenes and ensured everyone was comfortable as well as managed the enjoyable meals and even took pictures!

Sarah WebbComment
Pour briser le cycle de la violence

28 septembre 2018 Mis à jour le 27 septembre 2018 à 21h39 - MARIE-EVE LAFONTAINE - Le Nouvelliste


Trois-Rivières — L’Accord Mauricie est en train de faire l’essai d’un tout nouvel outil pour contrer la violence faite aux enfants. Le programme Papas bienveillants pourrait éventuellement être étendu à l’ensemble de la province étant donné qu’il obtient des résultats que l’organisme qualifie d’exceptionnels.

«Les résultats sont très positifs. À l’heure actuelle, on a des listes d’attente. Il va peut-être falloir penser à faire un deuxième groupe, et peut-être ultérieurement un troisième groupe, parce que la demande est là», mentionne Robert Ayotte, directeur général de l’Accord Mauricie, un centre d’aide pour conjoints à comportements violents ou contrôlants.

Papas bienveillants est un programme d’intervention de groupe destiné aux hommes qui maltraitent leurs enfants en contexte de violence conjugale. «Il est basé sur le bien-être et la sécurité de l’enfant», précise Nathalie Grenier, formatrice pour Papas bienveillants.

«Ça enlève l’isolement du papa, donc les risques de récidive, et ça l’empêche aussi de se promener d’une famille à l’autre et de continuer le cycle de la violence. On essaie d’enrayer ou d’arrêter ce cycle de violence dans lequel se trouvent des hommes parce qu’il n’y a aucun support ou très peu», ajoute-t-elle.

Les ressources dédiées aux hommes concernant cette problématique sont en effet très rares ou inexistantes. «On a mis en place ce type de programme là parce qu’il y a un besoin criant pour les hommes qui ont des difficultés en lien avec leur parentalité et leurs enfants», indique M. Ayotte.

Ce dernier mentionne que ces hommes ont parfois énormément de mal à s’exprimer sur leur relation avec leurs enfants en raison de la honte et de la culpabilité qu’ils ressentent. Le programme responsabilise le participant concernant son attitude violente et son comportement contrôlant. «Ça l’amène à prendre conscience de ses choix, de ses actions et de ses responsabilités tout en lui faisant comprendre quels sont les enjeux pour qu’il soit un bon papa», explique Mme Grenier.

Le programme est de deux heures par semaine pendant 17 semaines. Il a été créé en Ontario et a, par la suite, été implanté dans divers pays dont les États-Unis, le Royaume-Uni et l’Australie. Il est dédié aux hommes à faible ou à moyen risque. Oui, ça concerne la violence physique, mais ça peut aussi toucher la violence émotive, mentale ou même financière. L’aspect de la violence conjugale est aussi abordé. «Le programme est centré sur l’enfant, mais ce qu’on veut, c’est vraiment de garder les enfants et la maman plus en sécurité», note Mme Grenier.

Plusieurs intervenants de divers secteurs d’activités étaient réunis, jeudi, à l’île Saint-Quentin, pour prendre connaissance du programme Papas bienveillants. L’objectif est de l’étendre dans le reste de la Mauricie et de la province. «On est vraiment à l’état embryonnaire au niveau des discussions et c’est une des raisons pour lesquelles on a une journée aujourd’hui [jeudi]. On veut amener les gens à réfléchir sur les besoins et sur la façon dont on pourrait le faire», explique Mme Grenier. «Graduellement, si on l’implante partout, on vient d’avancer à l’égard de cette problématique-là, mais aussi sur le fait d’avoir un regard sur ce que les enfants peuvent vivre, parce que l’objectif qui est visé c’est le bien-être des enfants», conclut M. Ayotte.

Practice implications for child protection and domestic and family violence

Dr Silke Meyer is a social worker and criminologist by profession. She moved to Australia from Germany in 2006 to do her PhD on the help-seeking experiences of female victims of intimate partner violence. Currently she is Senior Lecturer at Central Queensland University (CQU) teaching in the Domestic and Family Violence postgraduate program. Her core teaching areas are working with victims of domestic and family violence and the intersection of domestic and family violence and child protection. The latter focuses on the intersection, challenges, shifts in practice and theoretical issues pertaining to understanding the impact of domestic and family violence on victims and children. She also focuses on accountability for perpetrators and the myriad of issues this highlights in research and practice.

Silke works on a variety of research projects, most recently working with and understanding victim and perpetrator experiences of domestic and family violence in domestic and family violence-related court proceedings and child safety settings. Currently Silke is working on two contracted evaluations for Child Safety. These include the Walking With Dads (WWD) and Caring Dads program evaluations.

“The current focus of engaging with dads has strong practice implications for child safety and organisations providing father-focused intervention programs” notes Silke. “This is a practice shift of working with families where there is domestic and family violence with the aim to keep mums and children safe and at home by engaging the father and working with each member of the family.”

Queensland has undergone significant shifts in practice both with regard to child protection and domestic and family violence. Silke notes that the Carmody Inquiry recommendations and those of the Not Now Not Ever report have had significant impacts. The desire to have children remain safely at home is demonstrated in frameworks and practice.

With regard to this growing trend in working with families impacted by domestic and family violence, the intent is to work with the perpetrator of violence on generating ownership for this behaviour rather than continue to hold the victim – which tends to primarily be the mother or female carer in family households – to account for her ‘failure to protect’ her children if she does not separate and is otherwise unable to control the perpetrator’s behaviours. This practice shift is evident in the ongoing evaluation work Silke is currently conducting: “It is exciting to see the shift, with reflection on past practice and enthusiasm for current and emerging practice with genuine excitement about the domestic and family violence-informed frameworks, practice tools and philosophy of working with families. My impression is that after talking to child safety workers in the WWD trial regions about the key benefits of such a shift in approach which includes identifying strengths of each family and building on these by working with the Mum and bringing Dad into the conversation to assist his understanding of the impact of his behaviour on both Mum and the children that staff are implementing these new approaches. Staff are doing some really cutting edge work under the Walking with Dads framework, which is designed to raise the perpetrator’s awareness that he is making a parenting choice when he uses violence against the other parent because this has an impact on his children.”

Silke is clear that whilst research evidence is not yet available, there is reason to be optimistic about outcomes thus far: “Anecdotal evidence is that Child Safety manages to keep more children safe in the home by working differently under the Safe and Together model. The outcome is that mums and children are safer and more children are able to remain with the non-abusive parent. This is significant, both from a Carmody and Not Now, Not Ever perspective.”

These practice changes have brought with them a number of challenges for the wider child protection sector along with other child and family support services. The most significant being that Working With Dads is a new experience for child protection staff. “Traditionally Child Safety hasn’t engaged much with dads. Having to bring dads into the conversation, especially in the context of domestic and family violence when dads can be potentially scary and aggressive and the staff don’t know what to expect or do, is confronting.” Silke asserts that significant skill development and training is needed. She notes that in the case of WWD, having the specialist worker on site is very useful. That worker provides domestic and family violence-specific training and staff can consult with the WWD worker or bring them into the family work. “This is a really important resource in terms of doing the tricky work, especially in high risk cases. The sad reality is there are a large number of high risk cases. More than we expected when we began these evaluations.”

Feedback has been that there are many high risk, crisis interventions where everyone is on high alert from Child Safety to police to domestic violence staff because of the history and extreme behaviours. “We’re expecting practitioners to engage with perpetrators who are manipulative, fantastic at image management, know how to work a system and how to control and intimidate their (ex)partner. To both engage them and then encourage that they take ownership of their behaviour takes high levels of expertise.” Silke is concerned that in the wider child safety context such staff are often social workers who may have undertaken a relevant subject or two but aren’t trained in men’s behaviour change. “We are asking workers to do a very tricky area of practice, often with little domestic and family violence-specific training.”

This highlights the importance of training around domestic and family violence that outlines aligning with the primary victim, engaging with men and holding them accountable. “It requires something like the Walking With Dads worker who can resource staff until the Safe and Together model has been made available to all frontline staff and is totally embedded and part of everyday practice. This specialist worker is key,” says Silke. She believes the same applies to other father-focused perpetrator interventions, such as the Caring Dads program. “Working with perpetrators of domestic and family violence requires certain skill sets. Without the relevant training around men’s behaviour change, we risk setting program participants as well as practitioners up for failure.”

Given the myriad of complexities noted, how do we develop a workforce with expertise in working with men? Silke notes that there has been limited training in universities. Swinbourne University was once alone in offering post graduate qualifications in this area. CQU now offers a men’s behavioural change postgraduate program. That equates to only two universities that focus on this work. “It hasn’t been seen as important. The Not Now Not Ever report has generated enhanced government attention to the need to work with perpetrators. Unless we work with perpetrators, our work with victims and children will only ever be a temporary solution. In order to work with perpetrators in a meaningful way, we need a skilled workforce.”

In building a workforce that is competent in working with perpetrators, Silke asserts that we need to work with men in their role as fathers and make it a sector wide commitment to expand capacity by committing to educating and training staff to gain the relevant skill sets to do this work.

“Without men’s behaviour change training, workers and group facilitators can easily inadvertently collude with perpetrators.” Silke also recognises that it takes a particular type of practitioner and personality to do offender intervention: “You are the inconvenient person holding men to account. Selection criteria for these programs really need people who have all the knowledge around parenting, attachment and trauma and essential skills around men’s behaviour change. These are men who are tricky to engage and know how to work the system.”

Our workforce has a way to go in managing the changes to the way we intend to practice according to Silke’s observations and conversations with others. “We’ve seen more commitment and we’re seeing growing numbers in our CQU program. There is interest and individual worker commitment to do more training but it comes with cost. Employer organisations have a responsibility to support this, through time commitment and some financial assistance. To incorporate study into the role is one option. We’ve seen commitment from the department in terms of scholarships. They’ve made several places available to non-government organisation’s graduate training in domestic and family violence practice at CQU.”

The ideal case scenario would be a whole of system commitment to build capacity in the sector that engages with the whole family, especially when a perpetrator is part of the family. “We need a general shift in social attitudes towards fathers and our concept of ‘good’ fathers. Part of the reason perpetrators fall of the plate is fathers in general are accepted to fall of the plate.” As a society we place less onus on fathers to parent than we do mothers. This needs to be redressed. We need champions to drive organisational change. Silke believes that one of the reasons why we are seeing substantial emerging changes in child safety practice is that Child Safety has champions who are committed to driving this change.

Silke believes that we also need to look at what is being taught in relevant undergraduate degrees in universities and include more domestic and family violence subjects. She highlights that training from experts such as David Mandel and the Safe and Together model is always a huge success in terms of numbers and interest. “The interest is there, we need to build the opportunities for people to access this training. Forums and training options need to be more widely circulated so that all organisations and the wider sector working with children and families can engage with this vital information.”

Given the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in the child protection system, Silke is aware that our processes with regard to our First Nation’s people need serious rethinking. She notes that building a workforce able to work holistically with families, including those who experience violence, must include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers. Many workers with whom she engages have noted that it is significant to have a male and female worker to support men’s business and women’s business. She notes that we need a culturally informed, appropriate and respectful workforce. Whilst some programs can be adapted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities, significant consultations about what may be suitable and what can be shaped to meet need are necessary. Overall we need more organisations that are community controlled, have direct input and workers who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. It is essential to have someone driving each program who is really passionate about the work and ensures that all key stakeholders are involved and considered. “Unless you work with communities around culturally specific design it is unlikely that we see the buy in, the passion and the drive you need to make these programs successful.”

Silke’s most recent undertaking is a new piece of work whereby CQU is developing an evaluation framework for perpetrator intervention programs in collaboration with an organisation that runs a number of programs in different Queensland locations. She is confident that this process will also assist in building the capacity of the sector through the organisational engagement in this collaborative approach.

Research in Practice: Caring Dads in Leeds

By Marcus Uhuru

I work for Caring Dads in Leeds, running groups for fathers who are trying to change their behaviour, to become better dads. We’re working from the belief that you are not being a good dad if you are abusive to your child’s mother.


For us, the end goal is safer families. In our work we see that some of the men who attend are filled with shame about what has happened in their lives, often about what they have done. This means creating a safer environment for men to talk about their experiences of fatherhood, and a place to consider why things are as they are, and how they need to change. Sometimes this means learning to recognise what violence and abuse actually is. A lot of our work is about helping dads to question thought patterns that have become norms – trying to rethink some quite embedded ways of looking at the world.

The Caring Dads model has always had at its heart the idea that real change is cultural, and happens within whole communities. At the same time, our challenge and privilege as facilitators is to work with dads to look in-depth at what needs to change on the deepest level. This means a lot of talking about things that are hard to own up to. Ultimately, we know that this programme is a set of tools for men to make changes if they choose to do so. We strongly believe that, when services are working with a family, knowing more about everyone, including dads, will make everyone safer. This remains true when it becomes clear that Caring Dads is not the appropriate response at the time.

The programme has its roots in the insight that, for many, fatherhood is a significant impulse towards change. The journey can begin with a realisation that things don’t have to be as they may have been in a man’s own childhood, that things can get better – that they have to get better. The desire to make this change can be big enough to face up to painful, shameful actions and experiences. We aim to work with that impulse and help men take steps to turn it into positive action.

It isn’t always a quick process; we are facilitating a process of change. There is a reason why our courses are over 17 weeks. Our subjective experience is that although this work is not a magic cure for violence and abuse in families, it is the most effective means we currently have for assisting families in becoming happier and safer.

In the future I’d like to see Caring Dads groups running in every part of the UK, continuing to grow, continuing to improve their fit for the communities in which they are based. I also hope to see many of the men who have attended Caring Dads making the case in their communities for the changes that they have made in their own lives. Caring Dads works with the belief that the only thing you can change is yourself – and yet modelling non-abusive ways of being men is a powerful advertisement for change at work, in wider families and in communities more generally. 

As someone with 14 years of experience in the Youth Offending Service before beginning my work with the Leeds Caring Dads team, I feel a sense of privilege that I’m involved in this important work. As men, I think we need to do as much as we can to stop violence against women, and I feel lucky that I get to make a difference in this way.

About the author

Marcus Uhuru is a BME practitioner and facilitates regular Caring Dads programmes in Leeds City Council.


Related resources

Caring Dads.

Research in Practice resources

Working effectively with men in families – including fathers in children's social care: Frontline Briefing.

Working effectively with men in families – practice pointers for including fathers in children's social care: Frontline Tool.


McConnell N, Barnard M, Holdsworth T and Taylor J (2016) Caring Dads: Safer Children: Evaluation Report. Available Online:

Caring Dads (2017), ‘One minute guide caring Dads programme’, Caring Dads, Available online:

Research in Practice is part of the Social Justice programme at The Dartington Hall Trust which is registered in England as a company limited by guarantee and a charity.

Caring Dads co-founder conducts training at GA

Recent Caring Dads facilitator training at the General Authority brought one of its founders, Tim Kelly, to Winnipeg from London, Ont., to conduct a two-day course with about 20 people – who included workers from several GA agencies, shelter workers, social workers, counsellors, probation officers, supervisors and managers. Kelly says the Caring Dads program is becoming increasingly popular and has expanded to include programs all over the world.

Last year, Kelly’s company, Changing Ways, trained the GA’s two inaugural Caring Dads facilitators, who are now conducting Caring Dads training through Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba.

The Caring Dads facilitator training is “appropriate for any professional interested in working with fathers (including biological, step, or common-law fathers) who have physically abused, emotionally abused or neglected their children, or exposed their children to domestic violence, or who are deemed to be at high-risk for these behaviors.”

“This is a basic training to really orient people to the content and the basic skills on running a Caring Dads program,” said Kelly.

The December training session was extremely popular. “We are scheduled to come back and do a second facilitator training in February. This one filled up pretty quick,” he said.

Kelly sees Caring Dads becoming more in-demand in many Canadian provinces, as well as in the United States, the U.K., and Australia, because more practitioners are using the Safe and Together domestic violence training program around the world. That program is a child-centred approach to help victims of domestic violence and to put the onus on the perpetrators for their actions.

However, once a family in a domestic abuse case has been part of the Safe and Together program, often workers are looking for a “what’s next” program for the fathers, he said. That is where Caring Dads fits in nicely, Kelly said. “All of a sudden people see this hole in the system with Safe and Together. How do you work with families? How do we work with this father, now?”

Kelly and Caring Dads co-founder Dr. Katreena Scott, an associate professor of applied psychology at the University of Toronto, launched the program in 2001 because “it fit a need for people,” said Kelly. “That piece [support for fathers in domestic abuse cases] was missing.”

If families are part of the Safe and Together domestic violence program, often workers are looking for a ‘what’s next’ program for fathers. This is where Caring Dads fits in.


Over the past 17 years, as the program has grown and developed (it is now running across Canada, along with a quarter of States in the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan and most of Australia), numerous studies have been done on its effectiveness in helping change the behaviour of abusive men.

Kelly noted a recent five- year study of Caring Dads done by the national child protection agency in the U.K. (The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children or NSPCC) found that one of the major outcomes was a reduction in harm toward children over time, along with a reduction in hostility toward the child’s mother.

Another study by the Canadian Child Welfare Institute and Dr. Scott found there was a reduction in hostility toward family support workers by fathers who participated in the Caring Dads program.

“The other pretty common piece of this for men who are perpetrators is isolation, so part of what we are targeting is breaking through isolation, encouraging health-seeking behaviour,” said Judie Powell, a social worker with Children’s Aid Society in Toronto, who conducted the GA training with Kelly.

Powell said, similar to the study by the Child Welfare Institute, in her work as a facilitator, she sees many fathers she works with start to develop a relationship with their workers, where none existed before.

“A lot of these fathers would say, ‘Well, who is my worker?’ And we’d say, ‘Well, it’s the same worker for your children or the mother of your children.’ And they’d say, ‘Well, who’s supposed to be sticking up for me?’” said Powell.

“So it’s really hard to see that you are still part of that constellation though now you may be separated due to criminal conditions or court orders, it’s still your family worker . ”

She said it’s crucial for fathers to learn that they still have a needed function in the family—“we just need to make that function more positive.”

Throughout the time fathers are participating in Caring Dads, said Kelly, facilitators are working on creating stability for fathers, and not just emotional stability. They outsource assistance to provide fathers with stable housing, client services, identifying mental health issues and finding them counselling.

Another goal of the 17-week program is to teach fathers about managing their behaviour. “What we find one of the common threads of the men we work with is a hostile attribution of a child’s behaviour – for example, say- ing ‘A child is doing this or that to get me,’” said Kelly. “We really work to rattle that sort of idea. So by the end of the program they are involved with the children and figuring out what are their child’s needs,” he said.

It also teaches fathers that “your kids are always listening, your kids are always watching, even when you thought they were asleep. That really changes things. They become more aware of their actions and how their actions affect their wives and children,” said Kelly.

Kelly noted that over the years he has been running the program, he has found that for facilitators, it’s important to be very clear and honest with the fathers, because sometimes what they are going through is overwhelming. “If we go to a dad and say you are a risk to your children, he starts hearing ringing in his ears and nothing else. We need to be really clear.”

He said that means giving fathers simple, attainable goals to reach, such as not calling your child stupid. If they are attained, that provides the father with a list of things that are evidence that he is changing his behaviour.

Powell said in her own experience, the number of fathers who return to the system after completing Caring Dads is extremely low. She has trained about 50 men, and only two have ended up with a new charge relating to domestic violence.

Kelly said he recognizes that those involved in facilitator training, and the workers who will eventually be working with fathers in Caring Dads, must undergo a shift in thinking.

“What we are asking in a child welfare setting is for workers to work differently. That becomes pretty disruptive to people,” he said. While many workers are comfortable doing things the way they have always done them, which is, to remove the father from the family’s lives, “that doesn’t stop him from starting new families.”

Another important aspect to facilitator training, said Powell, is to be cognizant of the overrepresentation of the populations being served. Thus, during the GA training, discussions were held while taking into consideration the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the Manitoba child welfare system.


Up next for Caring Dads

Next steps for Kelly and Caring Dads are a new project working with a leader in the Muslim community (meetings are set for January 2018 in Dubai), working with very young fathers (ages 16-18) and a project in Ireland looking at Caring Dads as a bridge program for men exiting the prison system.

Jean-Paul MoutonComment
Caring Dads in the Netherlands

In news from Caring Dads Europe, The Salvation Army in the Netherlands (Leger des Heils) recently published an article in their Kans (Chance) magazine sharing an emotional but ultimately redemptive story that illustrates the efficacy of the Caring Dads program. The article "Papa is Boos" (Daddy is Angry) tells the story of Brand, a 50-year-old father of two boys aged 9 and 11, and a participant in a Caring Dads programs offered in the country.

In Brand's own words he "wanted to be a tough father who offers safety, but [he] turned out to be insecure". He describes how he would sometimes explode at his children, and the abusive behaviours which followed. While heartbreaking, this is also a story of hope. This interesting read (in Dutch) is powerful example of how Caring Dads can positively impact fathers with similar experiences through the practical, child-centered fathering techniques taught in the program.

Brand benefited from the seventeen sessions of the Caring Dads program and learned more about the interests of his children. He also learned techniques to deal with difficult situations. Brand describes one of these as an emergency button: 'If I feel anger, I will chop wood. Sometimes make I go for a walk and I'll shout it out." He summed up his experience with Caring Dads as follows:

"Do you dare to look in the mirror and say: this is not going well? If you have the courage to seek answers questions, Caring Dads can be the best thing that ever happened."

Both Brand his Caring Dads Facilitator, Sander van Leer, talk about the added value of Caring Dads training in this video.


    Further Information

    Jean-Paul MoutonComment
    Launching the New Caring Dads Website

    Caring Dads is growing!

    As we have often said, our aim in developing this program was to fill a gap that we saw in our community.  We needed a program that could genuinely engage with fathers and work with them to contribute to the safety and well-being of children and their mothers. We also needed this program to be accountable to the community and integrated with other services to end violence. Little did we know that this program would spread so rapidly and widely! 
    As many of you may already know, Caring Dads is currently implemented through a network of Facilitators and Trainers in Canada, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, Australia and other locations around the globe. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to the program. We recognize that your work has been so integral to the widespread, evidence-based support Caring Dads enjoys today. 



    Bold new goals.

    As the Caring Dads program has grown, issues of quality and sustainability have come to the forefront.  As many of you know, over the past two years, we have been working to develop a framework to ensure that the quality of the Caring Dads program is consistent across sites.  We have also been working on the development of a number of resources to support quality program implementation and to transform Caring Dads into a sustainable social enterprise.  

    We’re also connecting with the wider Caring Dads family to share with you our plans for expansion of the program in the future. Caring Dads has always, at its core, been about protecting and safeguarding children and their mothers.

    "Our goal, over the next three years, is to establish over 600 new Caring Dads programs worldwide, servicing nearly 8000 fathers annually, and thereby ensuring the safety of almost 11,000 mothers and over 18,000 children. We’re sure you’ll agree that this is a very exciting prospect indeed!"



    A new brand identity

    An integral part of the new direction of Caring Dads is our updated brand identity. Our new logo reflects the kind of compassion and empathy we seek to develop in the fathers who progress through Caring Dads group programs.

    By working with these fathers to change patterns of abuse, increase awareness and application of child-centered fathering and promoting respectful co-parenting with children’s mothers, we are working to develop scenes like the one depicted in our logo: family relationships based on recognition, kindness and understanding.

    logo banner mockuo.png


    A new way to connect.

    Just as we are working hard to expand the Caring Dads program, we are equally invested in enhancing the support and development of our Facilitators and Trainers. We have redesigned the program as a social enterprise with the aim of creating the leading, international network of clinicians working in the fields of domestic and gendered violence. One of the many tools available to accredited Caring Dads professionals is our new website which launches today.

    A key feature is the new online Professional Portal where you can communicate and share your experiences with other Caring Dads professionals in the Forum, and access resources directly from the program's developers in the Resources section (this second version is much more user-friendly than our first attempt). As an accredited Caring Dads professional you will also receive ongoing program updates, regular newsletters and full participation in all the Caring Dads Program Evaluation Research. There will be some changes to how we do things, but it is our hope that these changes will be of benefit to everyone.

    website mockup.png

    New team members.

    We would also like to introduce the two new members of our team, Marty Menard and Jean-Paul Mouton. As our Social Enterprise lead, Jean-Paul has been integral to helping us pull together this new model for Caring Dads. He will be the main point of contact for Caring Dads in the UK, Europe and Australia and is working with us to respond to requests from other parts of the world. Marty is our Enterprise Development specialist in North America will be the main point of contact for all Canadian and US Caring Dads sites.

    Jean-Paul MoutonComment
    Caring Dads Anti-violence program launched

    Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos today officially launched Caring Dads, an early intervention pilot program aimed at fathers experiencing drug or alcohol abuse who have committed, or are at risk of committing family violence.

    The Victorian Government is investing $4.6 million over four years for the Caring Dads program, with an additional $1 million contributed by philanthropic partner Gandel Philanthropy.

    Fathers attend voluntary group sessions over 17 weeks where they learn parenting skills and the impact of family violence on their children as well as the importance of a respectful relationship with their children’s mother.

    “This program helps bring in to sharp focus for fathers the impact that family violence can have on their family and the development of their children,” said Minister Mikakos. “The Victorian Government is committed to trialling family-focussed programs that end the vicious cycle of family violence.”

    Referrals to the program are made through alcohol and other drug services, mental health services, child protection, Child FIRST, maternal and child health services, police and other community service providers.

    The pilot program will operate in three locations around the state. In Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs, the program will be managed by the Children’s Protection Society (CPS) in partnership with UnitingCare ReGen.

    The Children’s Protection Society is also providing clinical oversight to Anglicare who are running the program in Inner Gippsland, while Anglicare and IPC Health are managing the program in Melbourne’s west.

    “Family violence is insidious and the whole society has a duty to support programs and activities that address this crisis. Gandel Philanthropy trustees believed that the delivery of a pilot program, based on a very successful overseas model directed specifically at the perpetrators of violence, was worthy of support and had the potential to help tackle this pressing and complex social issue,” said CPS CEO, Aileen Ashford. “As a community we need to enhance the scope of services that assists men early on and supports them to build positive relationships with their children. This program will give us that chance. There are very few services that respond holistically to the multiple issues associated with family violence and none are evidence-based.  This program aims to keep children and parents together whilst building safe and healthy environments. “

    The pilot will run until June 2019 and will be fully evaluated by the University of Melbourne, represented at the launch by Professor Cathy Humphreys.

    Caring Dads was developed in Canada and is also currently delivered in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States.

    Following the Victorian Government’s commitment to implement all 227 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence – including researching, trialling and evaluating intervention programs for perpetrators, a record $1.9 billion package of measures to end family violence in Victoria was announced in the 2017-18 Victorian Budget.

    Gandel Philanthropy’s support comes as a strong advocate for addressing domestic violence and made one of its largest program-focussed grants to support the trial for the next three years.

    Jean-Paul Mouton
    Victoria Will Spend $4.6 Million To Rehabilitate Dads Who Commit Domestic Violence

    Early intervention program Caring Dads, which is still in its pilot phase, targets fathers with an alcohol or drug abuse problem who have committed, or are at risk of committing, domestic violence.

    High risk fathers are referred to the program through child protection services; alcohol, drug or mental health services; police or other community programs.

    Over 17 weeks, the men attend voluntary classes where they learn parenting skills, the impact of domestic violence on their children and the importance of a respectful relationship with the children's mother.

    Domestic violence is on the rise in Victoria, with Crime Statistics Agency figures showing overall offences went up 1.6% in the year ending in March 2017. Over 77,000 incidents were reported to police over 12 months.

    The Caring Dads pilot program will be rolled out in three locations with a prevalence of domestic violence – Melbourne's north-eastern suburbs, Melbourne's west and Inner Gippsland.

    Frontline staff at Caring Dads say early intervention is the key to getting men to take responsibility for their violent actions.

    One former violent offender currently completing the program, 44-year-old Hassan*, regained fulltime custody of his youngest daughter after a few weeks of classes.

    Aileen Ashford, the CEO of the Children’s Protection Society, says there isn't a quick fix to ending domestic violence in Victoria.

    “There are very few services that respond holistically to the multiple issues associated with family violence," Ashford said.

    “As a community we need to improve services that assist men early on and support them to build positive relationships with their children."

    She hopes the extra funding for Caring Dads will help keep children and parents together while building safer home environments.


    Mixmike / Getty Images

    The Victorian government says the Caring Dads program - which was developed in Canada - has been successful in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, German and the United States.

    On top of the Andrews government's $4.6 million commitment, Gandel Philanthropy - the vehicle for charitable giving by the extended Gandel family - will provide an additional $1 million. If successful in Victoria, the program could be rolled out nationally.

    Minister for families and children Jenny Mikakos says funding Caring Dads is part of a $1.9 billion package to end domestic violence in Victoria. Intervention programs were also one of the 227 recommendations made by the Royal Commission into family violence.

    “We know the importance of intervening early and this is about ensuring fathers understand the impact that family violence has on their family and the development of their children," Mikakos said.

    “We are determined to end the vicious cycle of family violence – early intervention, family-focussed programs are a critical part of this.”

    * This name has been changed.

    If you or someone you know is experiencing violence and need help or support, there are national and state-based agencies that can assist you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

    Jean-Paul Mouton
    Children Speak out on Family Violence

    Children and young people believe that fathers who use family violence need to be made more accountable, and it should be up to them, not the community or the courts, to decide whether they have anything to do with their Dads.

    That’s the message from a new study into the perspectives of children and young people whose fathers have used family violence, whether it is physical and/or emotional abuse.

    These feelings of children and young people who have suffered family violence are seldom listened to, but University of Melbourne researcher Dr Katie Lamb discovered that when asked they had plenty to say - some of it harrowing in the way it provides an insight into what it is like to fear your father.

    “It’s kind of like having a monster in the closet who sometimes buys you a Christmas present” said one study participant.

    “Children’s perspectives on their relationship with fathers who use violence rarely figure in the research literature or in the legal processes dealing with family violence. But when I came to talking to them I was blown away by exactly how strong their views were, whether it was an older young person or a child as young as a nine year old,” says Dr Lamb. “They all in some way wanted their fathers to acknowledge that what they had done was wrong and apologise.”

    Some told her that they just wanted their father to go away, to prison preferably. Others wanted to rebuild their relationships with their Dads, but only on their terms.

    But she found that common to all of them was a demand that their Dad make reparations in some way - to try to make amends - whether as a precondition for rebuilding trust, or just so that they could move on with their lives.

    Some of the participants have since gone on to record their experiences as ‘digital stories’ for use in programs designed to change the behaviours of fathers who use violence, in a project funded by the Luke Batty Foundation.

    “Even those children who wanted no further relationship with their fathers still saw reparation as being important to their own healing and giving them closure,” says Dr Katie Lamb, who carried out the study as part of her doctoral research in collaboration with University of Melbourne’s Research Alliance to End Violence Against Women and their Children (MAEVe), supervised by Professor Cathy Humphreys and Professor Kelsey Hegarty.

    The problem is, she says, there is little opportunity in the social or legal system to make fathers who use violence accountable to their children, and this needs to change both for the sake of the victims and the perpetrators.

    A criminologist who is now a Human Services management consultant at KPMG, Dr Lamb says her study, while small and qualitative, provides an important insight into how the system is failing to acknowledge the needs of children and young people who have experienced family violence.

    She says many told her they felt pressured by community expectations to forgive their fathers and accept them back into their lives. And they felt left out of processes attempting to hold fathers who use violence to account.

    “They had really strong views on what they wanted their fathers to learn and what their fathers needed to know about how they had hurt them. And they wanted their voices to be heard in programs for fathers who use violence.”

    Dr Lamb says that the children and young people she interviewed felt frustrated that they weren’t consulted on what should happen to their fathers, and they felt that authorities put pressure on them to accept their fathers had a right to stay in their lives.

    Dr Lamb says an important message from her study was that all the children wanted to be in control of what their future relationship with their fathers looked like and when it occurred. “They didn’t feel currently that was how it was looked at by adults, and that it was very much expected the child would simply forgive and forget.”

    “He denied all the abuse and stuff...and maybe if he’d done some time in prison and apologised for what he did I’d probably - you know, I might think about seeing him” - study participant.

    “Once I thought an apology was all you needed. But I don’t think that would even be enough. I need to see your actions have changed” - study participant.

    Dr Lamb interviewed 16 children and young people aged between 9 and 19 who had been the victims of family violence perpetrated by their fathers. The study was partly motivated by her experience working with male prisoners during her previous work managing programs in the Victorian justice system. She realised that fathers in prison were often concerned about their relationship with their children.

    “It was sometimes very surprising to see these pretty rough looking men hanging on the every word of a support worker who was giving them advice on how to interact with their children. I could see it was a pivotal issue for them and was something that could help motivate fathers to change.”

    Dr Lamb said it was critically important for fathers who use violence to hear the voices of children to combat the still pervasive idea that men who are violent to their partners can still be good fathers. She says the existing research is clear that experiencing family violence is bad for children. She says fathers who use violence can sometimes try to avoid facing up to their actions by thinking they can still be good fathers, and it is an idea still given some credence in the court system.

    “There is an assumption that a man who uses family violence can still be a valuable father, but the evidence doesn’t support that and this study doesn’t support that. Significant acts of reparation may be required.”

    It is why she says it is important that fathers who use violence be made to feel accountable to their children, and the children themselves also need to know that their fathers are accountable for the hurt they have inflicted on them.

    The Children’s Protection Society and UnitingCare ReGen have begun using the digital stories from the study in one of their intervention programs for fathers who use violence and according to a CPS clinical practitioner, the effect of listening to children speak is proving to be a cathartic experience for many of the men.

    “The video had a profound impact on the group and opened up a reflective discussion on the impact of family violence,” says Ms Edwards, who is facilitating a pilot of the Canadian-based Caring Dads intervention program. “One of the men said he felt like crying to think that his actions had badly affected his children, and the group generally was shocked by what they heard.

    “It is one way of motivating them to change because they don’t want to hurt and alienate their children,” Ms Edwards says.

    “We were products of her (our mother), so we got that watered down hatred that he held for her” - study participant.

    “When I’m angry, I’ll want to hit stuff and want to act out because that’s what I’ve seen my father do...And like I don’t want to be that person” - study participant.

    When Dr Lamb approached the young people to anonymously record their views as digital stories for use in rehabilitation programs, she says many of them jumped at the chance. She says they were “bursting” to be heard and to make a difference.

    “People ask me if this work was depressing or sad but I didn’t feel that way,” she says. “It has been really inspiring. These young people have been through so much yet they have such clarity of thinking and such mature views on what they have been through.

    “Those who agreed to make the digital stories were passionate about having them used and making a difference. Given what they have been through it was an amazing show of strength.”

    Dr Lamb’s study is part of the University of Melbourne’s broader “Fathering Challenges” research project that is funded by the Australian Research Council and led by Professor Humphreys.

    The University of Melbourne has been contracted by the Victorian Government to evaluate the pilot of the Caring Dads program.

    If in need of help you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732

    Banner Image: Keri-Anne Pink/Unsplash

    Jean-Paul Mouton
    Caring Dads Research Trial in Victoria, Australia

    Melbourne, VIC, Australia, 6th April 2017 – The Children’s Protection Society (CPS) in partnership with UnitingCare ReGen, Anglicare Victoria, IPC Health, University of Toronto, and Changing Ways (Canada), welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement of new funding to provide targeted family violence programs for vulnerable families. The funding of the ‘Caring Dads’ program, announced by Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos, will enable the pilot adaptation of an established Canadian early intervention (Caring Dads) for fathers whose behaviour exposes their children to harm because of neglect, physical and emotional abuse or domestic violence.

    Melbourne, Western Melbourne and Inner Gippsland. The trial, funded by Gandel Philanthropy and the Department of Health and Human Services, will be rigorously evaluated by a team from the University of Melbourne. The three Areas were selected as trial sites due to the prevalence of family violence. CPS and UnitingCare ReGen will deliver Caring Dads in the North-East Melbourne Area, and provide clinical oversight and support to Caring Dads sites in Inner Gippsland and Western Melbourne, where local organisations Anglicare in Inner Gippsland and Anglicare in partnership with IPC Health in Western Melbourne will provide the service.

    The trial of Caring Dads is significant, and represents a major investment by the Victorian government alongside a partnership between philanthropic organisations and state government led by a Community Service Organisation. Caring Dads is an evidence-based program with a family violence prevention focus and as such there are clear links to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

    Due to the specific and rigorous nature of the evaluation, the research partners (e.g. CPS, UnitingCare, ReGen, Anglicare Victoria, IPC Health and the University of Melbourne) are not able to provide support and training to additional sites across Victoria until the research is completed in 2020. After the research trial, the research partners are committed to sharing results with the community and to facilitating further development of Caring Dads, should it be supported in pilot research. None of the agencies involved in this trial have an exclusive license to Caring Dads for Melbourne, Victoria, or Australia. Licensing is maintained by the Caring Dads organization in Canada. If Caring Dads is found to be a successful model in Melbourne, additional training and opportunities will be provided for additional sites and further discussions will be held around the development of this exciting program.

    If you have any more specific questions regarding these matters, please contact Caring Dads Clinical Director, Jane Williams on

    Jean-Paul Mouton
    Caring Dads program teaches men to be better partners and fathers

    The 17-week Caring Dads program gives men how to discipline their children without using violence, and how to work in partnership with their partners, instead of controlling them. 

    In the first six months of 2015, Greater Sudbury Police responded to 1,091 domestic disputes. While not all cases had sufficient evidence for police the lay charges, the issue of domestic abuse has proven to be a big enough issue for five local organizations to team up and launch a new program to address the problem.

    Thanks to $10,000 in funding from the United Way Sudbury and Nipissing Districts the John Howard Society of Sudbury, the Sudbury Counselling Centre, the Sudbury Women's Centre, Sudbury and Area Victim Services and the Greater Sudbury Police Services are launching a new program called Caring Dads.  

    “The whole sense of this program is to give men the skills and the tools they need to become men who do not use issues of control, power and violence to get their way,” said John Rimore, executive director of the John Howard Society in Sudbury. “It teaches men essentially how to be caring dads.”

    Rimore said the 17-week program teaches men to be better fathers and partners. Participants will learn how to discipline their children without using violence, and how to work in partnership with their partners, instead of controlling them.

    The Sudbury Women's Centre and the Sudbury and Area Victim Services will also reach out to the participants' partners and former partners, if they have had children together, to see how they are progressing.

    Rimore said domestic abuse can be isolating for the victim, and by reaching out to the men's partners, they can take agency over their improvement.

    In 2014, 323,600 people across Canada were victims of a violent crime. Twenty-six per cent of them were victimized by a family member, and 68 per cent of those victims were women and girls.

    But Statistics Canada's Uniform Crime Reporting Survey in 2014 estimated 70 per cent of spousal violence cases go unreported. 

    Rimore said the program was developed in London, Ont., to specifically help men who have care of children where there has been domestic violence in the household.

    More than 85 per cent of reported abuses in the household are perpetrated by men against women.

    “We're not saying it doesn't happen the other way, but the vast majority is men abusing women,” Rimore said.

    He added there are programs in the community, such as the Child and Family Centre's Positive Parenting Program, that teach men and women to become better parents.

    Jean-Paul Mouton
    New program aims to help end the cycle of domestic violence in Sudbury

    Five service agencies in Sudbury are working together to help end the cycle of domestic violence. They're piloting an initiative called Caring Dads. The 17-week program works with men who have been charged or convicted of domestic violence. It's meant to teach them to be better fathers and partners, without the use of violence.

    The John Howard Society of Sudbury is one of the organizations involved.John Rimore, Executive Director, says the goal is to stop the cycle of abuse.

    "The way to do it is through programs that are not just punitive, such as a probation or jail sentence for men when they're convicted of domestic violence," he told CBC News. "It's programs like the Caring Dads that actually change a person's behaviour."

    In many cases of domestic violence, the focus is on getting help and support to the victim. But a new program in northern Ontario looks to help the men who may be charged with domestic violence. 

    Rimore says the program also provides services and support to the female victims. Tracy de Vos, who speaks for the Sudbury Women's Centre, says her agency's first priority is to keep women and children safe. owever she says when children are involved, it's important to keep the family relationship healthy.

    "We wouldn't encourage them to do it, or discourage it, but it has to be what's in the best interest of the family," de Vos said. "This way with the men getting the help, at least they're given the tools on how to continue that positive relationship with their families."

    A first for northeastern Ontario

    The men attend voluntarily and are provided with support and resources to help change their behaviour. This is the first time the Caring Dads program has been offered in northeastern Ontario. The program began at the University of Toronto, and was founded by professor Dr. Katrina Scott. It was first piloted in London, Ont.

    In Sudbury, the organizations behind the Caring Dads program include the John Howard Society of Sudbury, Sudbury Women's Centre, Sudbury and Area Victim Services, Greater Sudbury Police Services and the Sudbury Counselling Centre. The program is funded by the United Way of Sudbury and Nipissing districts.

    Jean-Paul Mouton
    Increasing men’s awareness of the effects of family violence Report commended
    Family violence can not only have serious if not fatal consequences for women but the effect on their children can be devastating and long-lasting.
    — Commissioner for Children, Mark Morrissey said.

    Mr Morrissey was speaking at the launch of the Family Violence Men’s Education Project 2016 report, Increasing Men’s Awareness of the Effects on Children Exposed to Family and Domestic Violence, in Hobart today.

    Mr Morrissey said the report makes a very important contribution to the discussion about how to increase men’s awareness of the effects of family violence on their children and lessen the harm it can cause.

    “We know that growing up with violence in the home can have devastating and lasting effects on children with consequences for their health and wellbeing, their performance at school, their future relationships and their capacity to be fully participating members of our community,” Mr Morrissey said.

    “We are only now beginning to understand how children affected by family violence cope, how they are affected, what contributes to their resilience and what they need.”

    “It is a tragic fact that even in a country as advantaged as Australia, many children are not safe or free from violence in their own homes.”

    Mr Morrissey said as Commissioner for Children, one of his key functions is to increase awareness of matters relating to the wellbeing of Tasmanian children and young people.

    He said wellbeing encompasses care, development, education, health and safety and every child has the right to live in a safe, caring and nurturing environment; free from all forms of violence and abuse.

    Mr Morrissey said research data deficiencies however mean that it is difficult to fully understand the extent of the impact of domestic and family violence on children.

    He said for children, as for women, living with family violence is not just about experiencing separate incidents of violence - it is also about growing up in an atmosphere of fear and tension. Understandably this can impact enormously on children’s development and wellbeing.

    Women and children are disproportionately affected by violence in the home – and that it is attitudes to masculinity and gender inequality which underlie this violent behaviour.

    Children learn by what they see their parents doing. We must take decisive action to eliminate attitudes and beliefs which have been used to justify the use of violence by some men in intimate relationships.

    “What we do know is that that greatest positive impact on this pervasive problem will come from prevention and early intervention. This must include true and genuine gender equality, and an understanding by all that violence and abuse in its many forms is never a solution.”

    “We are all responsible for ensuring that addressing violence against women and children continues to be a top priority for our community and is treated as such by us all in our personal and professional lives.”


    The Commissioner for Children, Mark Morrissey, (left), Her Excellency, Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AM, the Governor of Tasmania and Professor Katreena Scott of the Caring Dads Program (Canada).


    The Salvation Army and UTAS released the report into Increasing Men’s Awareness of the Effects on Children Exposed to Family and Domestic Violence. Guest speakers at the report launch included Mark Morrissey, Commissioner for Children, Her Excellency, Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AM, the Governor of Tasmania, Tino Carnevale, ABC Gardening Australia presenter, Assoc Professor Katreena Scott of the Caring Dads Program (Canada) and Dr Peter Lucas of the research team. 

    Speech for Launch of the FV Mens Education Project Final Report April 2016

    Jean-Paul MoutonComment
    Selbsthilfegruppe Caring Dads - Wenn der Vater wütend wird

    Hannover - "Man kann es nicht zurückdrehen“, sagt Michael R. „Aber man kann es in Zukunft besser machen.“ Was er ihr angetan habe, bereue er zutiefst, hat der Schlosser seiner Tochter in einem Brief geschrieben.

    Es sei schlecht gewesen, sie unter den Wasserhahn zu drücken und dabei am Mund zu verletzten. Falsch und mies, sie in eine Küchenecke zu zerren, wobei ihr eine Zahnecke abbrach. Das Schuldeingeständnis, das weiteres Fehlverhalten umfasst, hat R. der 15-Jährigen zum Ende seines Sozialtrainings Caring Dads übergeben. Ein Jahr nach Beginn des Modellprojekts beim Männerbüro Hannover ziehen er und andere Teilnehmer im Gespräch mit der HAZ für sich eine positive Bilanz. Sie seien keine neuen Menschen, aber bessere Väter geworden.

    Caring Dads (Fürsorgliche Väter) ist ein von Land und Klosterkammer Hannover gefördertes soziales Training für Väter, die in ihren Familien Gewalt ausgeübt haben. Bei dem 26-Wochen-Programm nach kanadischem und Düsseldorfer Vorbild sollen die Männer lernen, ihre Aggressionen zu kontrollieren und sich ihren Kindern gegenüber friedlicher zu verhalten. Jugendamt, Gerichte und Staatsanwaltschaft schicken - als Auflage - einige Männer nach häuslicher Gewalt zu den Treffen. Andere Väter, wie Michael R., kommen freiwillig.

    „Mich hat er behandelt wie ein Stück Dreck.“

    Als seine Tochter in die Pubertät kam, seien die Konflikte so eskaliert, dass er sich nicht anders zu helfen wusste, erzählt der 53-Jährige. Bei alltäglichen Streitigkeiten, etwa über ein unaufgeräumtes Zimmer, sei er immer wieder in Rage geraten, habe sich nicht kontrollieren können. „Dabei war sie doch mein Liebling gewesen“, sagt R. Auch die Ehe habe in der Zeit schwer gelitten; seine Frau, die sich schützend vor das Mädchen stellte, habe ihn gedrängt, sich beraten zu lassen. So sei er auf die Caring-Dads-Gruppe gestoßen, die vom Sozialpädagogen Bernward Müller-Prange und, für die weibliche Perspektive, der Pädagogin Doreen Herler professionell geleitet wird.

    Anders als Elternkurse des Kinderschutzbundes richtet sich das Projekt gezielt an Männer. In der Gruppe sollen sie zunächst lernen, ihre Gefühle zu erkennen und zu benennen. Das Verhältnis zum eigenen Vater spielt dabei eine Rolle. „Mein Vater war freiwillig in den Zweiten Weltkrieg gezogen“, erzählt R., ein in dem Gespräch freundlicher Mann in Jeans und einem Polohemd, das seine kräftigen Arme betont. „Mich hat er behandelt wie ein Stück Dreck.“ Obwohl er selbst nie so werden wollte, sei er auf dem Weg gewesen, seine Tochter genauso zu behandeln, sagt der Schlosser. Das könne natürlich keine Entschuldigung sein, sondern nur eine Erklärung. Kein noch so provokantes Verhalten eines Kindes dürfe dazu führen, dass ein Erziehungsberechtigter sich nicht unter Kontrolle habe.

    Ähnliches berichtet Thomas H. Auch der 52-Jährige aus dem Süden der Stadt ist freiwillig zu Caring Dads gekommen. Der Diplom-Kaufmann schildert sein früheres impulsives Verhalten gegenüber seinen Teenager-Töchtern als sehr problematisch - auch wenn in seinem Fall keine körperliche Gewalt gegen die Mädchen im Spiel war. Mit Beschimpfungen und Beleidigungen habe er die Mädchen erniedrigt, wenn sie sich trotzig zeigten - wie Mädchen in dem Alter eben oft sind, wie er heute weiß. Sehr oft habe sich Streit etwa um das Ausräumen der Spülmaschine so hochgeschaukelt, dass er gebrüllt und Türen geknallt habe. „Die Atmosphäre wurde unerträglich, ich musste gucken, wie ich diese Spirale durchbreche,“ sagt der hagere Akademiker rückblickend und putzt dabei seine Brille.

    Männer scheuen sich über ihr Verhalten zu sprechen

    In der Gruppe, die sich mittwochsabends für zwei Stunden im Männerbüro trifft, musste der Kaufmann, wie die anderen, regelmäßig als „Hausaufgabe“ ein Verhaltensprotokoll der vergangenen Woche schreiben. Jeder erarbeitete sich dabei einen „Notfallplan“ - einen Weg, beim nächsten Streit die Wut nicht in Gewalt zu verwandeln. Thomas H. hilft es, erst mal den Raum zu verlassen und eine Weile spazieren zu gehen. Anschließend versucht er, in Ruhe das Problem zu bereden. Das gelinge ihm mittlerweile gut, allen in der Familie gehe es besser - auch wenn bei den Kindern sicher seelische Narben zurückblieben.

    Der Kaufmann ist von Caring Dads so überzeugt, dass er sich als Ansprechpartner für Interessenten anbietet. Offenbar scheuten sich viele Männer, über ihr Verhalten zu sprechen, meint er. Nur damit sei wohl zu erklären, dass in dem zunächst auf drei Jahre begrenzten Projekt das Angebot die Nachfrage übersteigt: 13 Väter nahmen 2014 an der fortlaufenden Gruppe teil, insgesamt 40 Kinder vom Säuglingsalter an waren betroffen. Zurzeit ist mit fünf Teilnehmern nur die Hälfte der Plätze besetzt. Es gab einzelne Abbrecher unter denen, die von Gericht oder Staatsanwaltschaft geschickt worden waren. Drei Männer wurden ausgeschlossen, weil sie bei dem 26-Doppelstunden-Programm mehrmals ohne Entschuldigung fehlten.

    Nun will sich das Männerbüro an Kitas, Familienhebammen und den Stadtelternrat wenden, um das Soziale Training bekannter zu machen und es verstärkt vorbeugend einzusetzen. Herler hofft, dass nach Ende der dreijährigen Modellphase Stadt und Region finanziell einsteigen. „Wer motiviert ist, profitiert wirklich“, meint die Pädagogin. Gewalt sei erlerntes Verhalten, das wieder verlernt werden kann.

    Das kann auch bei vom Jugendamt vermittelten „Problemvätern“ funktionieren, wie die Zwischenbilanz des Männerbüros zeigt. Ein Teilnehmer, Mitte 20, war gegen seine Kinder oft handgreiflich geworden, die Stadt vermittelte die drei in eine Pflegefamilie. Im Laufe des Sozialtrainings habe sich das Verhalten des jungen Mannes so deutlich verbessert, dass bei den begleiteten Umgangstreffen auch das Jugendamt davon überzeugt wurde. Die Kinder leben nun wieder bei ihren Eltern.

    Männerbüro hilft Tätern und Opfern

    Das 1996 gegründete Männerbüro Hannover im Ahrbergviertel in Linden, Ilseter-Meer-Weg 7, unterstützt in verschiedenen Projekten sowohl Täter als auch Opfer in Fällen von häuslicher oder sexueller Gewalt. Das Caring Dads-Sozialtraining, das es in ähnlicher Form seit 2005 in Kanada und seit 2007 auch in Düsseldorf gibt, kooperiert mit den im Hannoverschen Interventionsprogramm gegen Männergewalt in der Familie vertretenen Einrichtungen. Finanziert wird es vom Landessozialministerium, der Klosterkammer Hannover und durch Einnahmen aus Bußgeldern, Spenden und einem Selbstkostenanteil der Teilnehmer. Das Männerbüro ist telefonisch unter (05 11) 12 35 89 10 und im Internet auf zu erreichen.