A first-of-its-kind website offering free tools, guides and tips for early childhood centres to involve fathers more in their activities will be launched on Monday at a national conference in Melbourne.
The University of Newcastle's Family Action Centre joined forces with Good Beginnings - a national early childhood charity - to develop the new website. It will be launched at the national Getting it Together for Australia's Children conference.
Dr Richard Fletcher from the University's Family Action Centre said the website was designed to provide support to early childhood centres to involve fathers and benefit children's development.
"We know that father involvement can improve children's mental and physical development and that child care centres and preschools are where a lot of development occurs," Dr Fletcher, who is Leader of the Fathers and Families Research Program, said.
"Dads are dropping kids off or picking them up, but the important communication about child development is usually between the staff and the mum. It's time to get dads more engaged."
The website contains examples of programs, research evidence about the benefits to children of father involvement and a set of training DVDs for workers and parents to view. It also features stories of success, such as the dad who was able to contribute to his daughter's development and enthral children by bringing in nesting boxes of the finches he reared.
Mr Paul Prichard, Training Manager for Good Beginnings, said the website was not about reducing the involvement of mums.
"It's about doubling the support for kids by bringing fathers right in to where their children are," Mr Prichard said.
The Getting it Together for Australia's Children conference will be held at Olympic Park, Melbourne from 15 - 17 February 2009. The University of Newcastle's Professor of Community Child Health and Head of the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health - Professor Graham Vimpani AM - will launch the website at the conference on Monday 16 February 2009.
The website - www.newcastle.edu.au/childrens-centres - will be live from Monday 16 February 2009.