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Väterarbeit - Concepts for work with fathers in European comparison for the promotion of active parenting by fathers

Concepts for work with fathers in European comparison for the promotion of active parenting by fathers (2012 -2014)

(Konzepte von Väterarbeit im europäischen Vergleich zur Förderung der Beteiligung von Vätern in der Erziehung)

Objectives of the Partnership

Committed fatherhood is often called for, but only rarely is it being systematically or comprehensively promoted.
Today, the majority of fathers aim to support, parent and care for their children actively and competently. Fathers want to balance their family and their career. Committed fatherhood is of benefit not only for the fathers themselves, but also for children and mothers.
The learning partnership promotes and supports the mutual learning process of German, Austrian, French, Polish, Scotish and Swiss institutions which offer education, information, counselling and networking services to fathers.
These institutions work with different father-oriented educational concepts; the effectiveness of which will be compared by means of a systematic comparison. The goal is to compare strengths and weaknesses, to learn from one another and to collaboratively refine the various concepts. The possible transfer of ‘good practice’ from the participating institutions (within their respective specific environment) to other contexts will be reflected upon and promoted. The quality of services will be improved through collaborative reflection and the exchange of experiences. Evaluation tools and experiences in father-oriented educational work will be shared and tested in other contexts; the findings will be jointly evaluated.
Particular emphasis will be put on educational services which reach out to fathers (from varying social backgrounds) who are normally less likely to access education.

Motivation for the Partnership
The landscape of professional advice and support services for families and parents has not kept up with the changing father role. For example in Germany, support, advice and information services for “families” and “parents” are often used by only 10 to 20% of fathers. Adequate and necessary father-inclusive adjustments to the providers’ services and image have not been made. There are only a handful of successful good-practice examples of working with fathers in Europe. Father-inclusive attempts have often been rewarded with little success. Providers of family education and support have, with varying degrees of effort, attempted to reach out to fathers. Yet as a rule, family education is still largely equated with mother-directed offers and services, thereby structurally inhibiting fathers’ participation and engagement in these traditional programmes.
The learning partnership is intended to bring together organisations which work innovatively and to facilitate mutual learning so that they can further improve their services to fathers. Another aim is to facilitate a European discourse which encourages and strengthens modern, family-oriented and father-inclusive work with fathers.

 

European Added Value
At the European level, education and advice services for fathers have been hardly at all discussed in a systematic fashion. The father-inclusive professional associations and sections which do exist work at the national level only.
The learning partnership is therefore breaking new ground. The mutual learning from good practice and the related public documentation (internet website, closing conference, ...) are conceived to be a first step towards cross-border, transnational professional exchange between education providers, trainers, coaches, counsellors and fathers from different European countries who actively use the respective services. The participating countries have differing conceptions of father roles, family configurations and structures as well as different structures, contents and methods in adult education; these differences hold a great learning potential for all participants.

Expected Impact
The respective associations, which often provide their services with minimal resources available, will obtain feedback on their services, pointers with respect to possible evaluation processes as well as ideas on how to adapt their services so as to reach out to a greater number of fathers (low threshold, modularisation, ...).
Hence, focal points are further professionalisation, increased networking, intensified participation and a greater range of services within the organisations. Moreover, the aim is to boost the vision and mission of the participating organisations and their actors.

Partner’s Profiles

The target group of the Väterzentrum Berlin are fathers in Berlin as well as their children and families. All family constellations and all varieties of kinship are welcome and are taken into account in the programme planning.
The Väterzentrum Berlin supports committed and engaged fatherhood, which is of benefit not only to the fathers themselves, but also to children and mothers. Mannege e.V. is the (non-profit) support association of the Väterzentrum Berlin.
We promote and assist the trend towards committed fatherhood by educating, supporting, informing and counselling of fathers in all possible family settings and circumstances. Mannege e.V. is actively involved in family and social policy. This approach to father-oriented support services makes the Väterzentrum Berlin unique.
Our work is based on research findings in the field of father and family research, as well as on evidence emerging from infant psychology, and on the methods and subject matter of modern adult and parent education which particularly take into account elements of informal learning.
All relevant psychological and family-sociological studies document the immense significance of fathers to the development of their children and their contribution to a happy and contended family.
In our daily practical work with fathers and families, we take our lead from international good practice. We continually refine our concept and its practical implementation and draw inspiration from our professional exchange and networks in Berlin, Germany and Europe.

Contact person:

Eberhard Schäfer, Managing Director,

E-Mail: eberhard.schaefer(at)vaeterzentrum-berlinde 

Tel. +49 30 28389861

The Evangelische Kirchenkreis Unna is the Protestant Church in the Hellweg region between the rivers Lippe and Ruhr. This area includes industrial as well as rural communities. The Ruhrgebiet is a melting pot whose immigration intake has been a major factor in local people’s lives.
We are a network of communities, institutions, organisations and services. With the Women’s Desk and the Desk for Men and Adult Education we focus on the promotion and support of sensitive and respectful interaction with one another, in society in general and in parenting in particular.  
In order to support positive father-child relationships as well as the parenting competencies of fathers, the Desk for Men and Adult Education Unna has developed a multi-stage concept for low-threshold and in-depth father-oriented educational work:

  1. Low-threshold father projects are carried out in co-operation with kindergartens and take place at the premises of kindergartens.
  2. Seminars for fathers offer the chance for consolidation and continuation, with distinct focal points, such as father-son seminars or religious-educational seminars.
  3. The concept is oriented along the principles of experiential education.
  4. Father projects are planned and prepared with fathers.
  5. Father engagement, i.e. working with fathers, is designed to be a temporary men’s group. Common experiences with children are reflected upon and made useful for fathers’ daily lives.
  6. The father-child news bulletin supports active fatherhood by disseminating book reviews, background information and other positive input.
  7. Counselling for men offers stability, especially at times of psycho-social crisis. Seminars for men with special support needs offer practical help and orientation (fathers with migrant backgrounds, fathers of disabled children)


Contact person:
Dirk Heckmann, Desk for Men and Adult Education

E-Mail: dheckmann(at)kk-ekvwde 

Tel. +49 2303/288-180


The non-profit association Väternetz.CH was founded in Bern on 10 March 2004 as a national association of actors involved in working with fathers. The aim was to assist professionals in their work with fathers by offering a platform for networking and co-ordination. The association’s focus was the fathers’ / male perspective, acting from a position of gender equality and partnership. The intention was to increase the social status and recognition of domestic and family work, and to promote the collaborative division of roles between mothers and fathers with respect to gainful employment and family work.
The association decided in summer 2011, on organisational and resource-related grounds, to pursue its aims no longer in the shape of an independent non-profit association, but within the framework of the Fachgruppe Väterarbeit ('Father Work Division') of maenner.ch, the ‘umbrella association’ of Swiss men’s and fathers’ organisations.
The current focus is a project (conducted in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Office for Migration) which facilitates discussion groups across the country for fathers with migration background on the issue of “Being a Dad in Switzerland”.
The VäterNetz.CH has many years of experience in working with fathers living in separated families.

Contact person:
Andreas Borter, Board Member

E-Mail: borter(at)maennerch
Tel +4 34 422 00 09

The Männerbüro Salzburg (Men’s Desk Salzburg) was established in 1998 with the aim of realising the three areas relevant to the work with men (Männerarbeit) in Austria: education (Bildung), advice (Beratung) and networking (Begegnung; the „three Bs of the work with men“).
The education work of the Männerbüro is focussed on the work with fathers and the role of men in society. A regular feature of our educational work is the annual Men’s Day, taking place in the Bildungshaus (education center) St. Virgil, in co-operation with the Catholic Men’s Movement. Also, every year we offer the “Day of Silence”, a four-day seminar during which the participants reflect upon their role as men. On behalf of the BMASK, we have been organising the Boys Day in Salzburg since 2008 which introduces young men to typically female professions such as (social) care and pedagogical work. In 2008, the Männerbüro organised the 6th Austrian Men’s Conference (6. Österreichische Männertagung) on the topic of „Balance – Health for Men“. In 2009/10, the BMASK financed a series of lectures on “Everything Men Should Know”.
Currently, the Männerbüro is working with educationally disadvantaged men with migration background as part of the education project MELETE for migrants, which is being funded by federal funds and the ESF. Also, we are preparing a Euregio project (together with the Caritas Bad Reichenhall and Akzente Salzburg) which focuses on fathers as protective factors in addiction prevention. The Männerbüro Salzburg also offers breakfasts for fathers. A particular project is a leaflet for fathers in several languages (compiled together with the Salzburg father researcher Peter Ballnik) which summarises the current state of knowledge of the research into fathers and fatherhood for men/fathers with migration background. This leaflet is being funded by the BMASK.

Advice/counselling services: The Männerbüro offers professional counselling by therapists, solicitors and sociologists for men in challenging circumstances. The counselling is being financed by the city of Salzburg and is free of charge. Donations are encouraged.
Networking: The Männerbüro regularly offers men’s groups.

Contact person:
Eberhard Siegl, Pädagogischer Leiter
E-Mail: maennerbuero(at)salzburg.coat 

Tel.: +43 662 8047 7551

The Zentrum für Mission and Evangelisation (Centre for Mission and Evangelisation, CME) of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Poland works across the whole of Poland and reaches out to a wide range of age and social groups. The CME’s work includes the support for people in challenging circumstances through:

  • pastoral and psychological counselling
  • end-of-life care for the dying and grieving
  • promotion of diaconal and charitable work
  • implementation of measures in social welfare
  • prevention of social pathologies
  • streetwork, whose aim is the support for / the promotion of the personal development of children and young people at risk of social exclusion


The work of the CME focuses on the participation, motivation, training and practical support of these groups, with the objective of improving their quality of life.


Contact person:
Roman Fenger, Head of Department

E-Mail: roman.fenger(at)cme.orgpl 
Tel.: +48 338529781

Background information

GRUNDTVIG Learning Partnership

Between 2012 and 2014 the project „Concepts for work with fathers in European comparison“ was conducted in the framework of the GRUNDTVIG Lifelong Learning Programme of the EU.
The Grundtvig Learning Partnership is a framework for practical cooperation activities between organisations working in the field of adult learning in the broadest sense - formal, non-formal or informal. In a Grundtvig Learning Partnership trainers and learners from at least three participating countries work together on one or more topics of common interest to the co-operating organisations. This exchange of experiences, practices and methods contributes to an increased awareness of the varied European cultural, social and economic scene, and to a better understanding of areas of common interest in the area of adult learning.

The following activities may be supported:

  • Partner meetings and seminars between all institutions involved in the Partnership
  • Exchanges of staff and adult learners involved in project activities
  • Exchanges of experience and good practice, by all appropriate means and in particular using information and communication technology (e.g. websites, e-mail, video-conferencing)
  • Making of technical objects, drawings and arts objects related to the project
  • Fieldwork, project research, etc.
  • Preparation of performances (e.g. theatre plays, musicals, etc.)
  • Linguistic preparation for persons involved in the Partnership to ensure they possess the necessary competence in the working language(s) of the partnership
  • Co-operation with other projects in related subject areas (in particular Partnerships, projects and networks supported by Grundtvig) and sharing experience with other institutions in the region, etc., including mobility to relevant events organized by these
  • Self-evaluation activities
  • Organisation of exhibitions, production and dissemination of information material or documentation on the co-operation activities
  • Dissemination of project experience and outcomes

Links and Ressources

Arbeitskreis neue Erziehung