New research published by Leeds Trinity University and parenting platform DaddiLife has revealed that young fathers face preventable barriers when accessing education and employment, leaving some in vulnerable positions.

From left to right: Han-Son Lee and Dr Carmen Clayton.

New Pathways for Young Fathers is a collaborative piece of research between Leeds Trinity University and DaddiLife, working in partnership with Leeds City Council’s ‘Support and Prevention Team’ and ‘Futures’ to investigate the day-to-day experiences of young fathers and how they manage their role as a parent.

The aim of the research is to kickstart further debate and progress on education, employment and training trajectories, and the impact that such experiences can have on a young father's health and wellbeing.

Findings from the study identified potential risks in the education system, the training sector, employment issues and a lack of informal or formal support for some young fathers, which typically resulted in negative outcomes, including poor mental health. 

The report concludes that there is a need for policy change – particularly investing in and providing more professional and community support for young men. Future focus should be on the emerging role of what it means to be a father and enabling a better understanding of young fathers’ rights. 

Dr Carmen Clayton, co-author and Reader in Family and Cultural Dynamics at Leeds Trinity University, said: “Through a mutual and passionate interest in modern day fatherhood and the lives of young fathers, Leeds Trinity University and DaddiLife formed a new research collaboration to focus on the current educational, employment, and training experiences and trajectories for this group of parents.

“By providing a platform for young fathers’ voices, we hope that this study will generate and encourage much needed discussion amongst professionals and policy makers and our online launch event will be a starting point for initiating these debates.” 

Han-Son Lee, Founder of DaddiLife and co-author, said: Despite the many advances of fathers as a whole over the last few years moving out of the traditional stereotype of being a secondary or lazy parent, New Pathways for Young Fathers has revealed that there are a hidden array of extra issues and tensions for young fathers. My hope is that this research has started to shine a light on the incredible attempts these men are making in re-shaping their lives, ambitions, and day to day experiences around their new fatherly role. 

He added: “But despite their best efforts, the ‘perfect storm’ of educational barriers, employment policies, and ever reducing support is leading to very real and worrying health concerns of these young fathers. It’s vital that we deepen our focus into this group of parents across the whole of the UK.” 

Funded by Research England, the study was undertaken as a series of focus groups and interviews with young fathers who were under the age of 25 at the time of pregnancy or birth in Leeds and the North East. The process involved 10 face to face interviews, 10 telephone interviews and a series of focus groups with young fathers.

An online launch event involving key stakeholders such as Scottish Government’s Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy, the Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange at the University of Bedfordshire, Department for Work and Pensions, the Royal College of Midwives, Family Nurse Partnership, and Leeds City Council will discuss how the research can be developed, and how findings can be implemented to support young fathers. 

Alison Hadley OBE, Director of the Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange at the University of Bedfordshire will provide the keynote speech at the launch. The virtual launch will allow local and national government to come together with other key organisations across the UK on Friday 20 November, 1.00 – 3.00pm. 

To find out more about New Pathways for Fathers, read the latest blog on the DaddiLife website or download a copy of the report (available to view on Friday 20 November).   

Categories: Children, Young People and Families

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Looking to source a comment or would like to arrange an interview with one of our academic experts? Contact Zoe on +44 (0) 113 283 7100 or z.shackleton@leedstrinity.ac.uk