Research Spotlight

Transforming Young Lives

Father-inclusion for Young Dads

There is a commonly held view that fathers below the age of 25 are inherently ‘risky’, uncaring, or irresponsible. This can sometimes lead to young fathers experiencing exclusion and stigmatisation in society.

A research project led by Anna Tarrant, Professor of Sociology at the University of Lincoln, is questioning these popular myths, collating evidence that young dads not only have a desire to be positively involved in their children’s lives, but that they are willing to advocate for policy change on a national level to introduce more father-inclusive practices.

The Future Leaders Fellowship study, ‘Following Young Fathers Further', is funded by UK Research and Innovation and has seen the co-creation of the Young Dads Collective (YDC) in Leeds in 2017 and Grimsby in 2023. Through these groups, dads from deprived areas are being given a platform to connect with each other, discuss how practice and policy could better accommodate them, and directly present their views to senior-level professionals and practitioners.

Challenging the societal narrative of the irresponsible young man, the young fathers that are engaging in our research are advocating for themselves, while also educating professionals about the wider social benefits of father-inclusive practices.

Professor Tarrant's research reveals that young fathers are the most marginalised of parents, with support services in health and social care, and the statutory and voluntary sectors not typically targeting their demographic. However, following attendance at a YDC workshop, professionals are gaining an improved understanding of young fathers’ commitments to their children and what good practice entails.

“Our engagement with young fathers as ’experts by experience’ in areas like Leeds, Grimsby and the North East, more recently, is proving just how invested young fathers are in supporting their children and their families," explains Professor Tarrant. "This approach is empowering for young fathers, their families, and professionals.”

I'm buzzing. Love being listened to and it’s not just the work with the professionals. It’s about meeting up with other dads when we do the planning. We all want other dads to have a better experience.

YDC delivers innovative training on integrating father-inclusive practices to hundreds of professionals across various industries, and some young fathers were supported further to participate in national policy discussions at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood.

In addition to campaigning for policy and practice improvements, the YDC provides young dads with an invaluable platform to connect socially and develop confidence, granting them wider benefits for their citizenship. For example, where none of the fathers were in permanent employment before their involvement in the training, several secured paid work and/or training opportunities by being able to evidence their newly acquired skills.

The team has also supported the co-creation of DigiDAD that further seeks to develop the skillset of young fathers. The North East Young Dads and Lads project won two awards at the prestigious Children and Young People Now Awards 2023 for DigiDAD: the Youth Work national project of the year and Advice and Guidance national project of the year.


DigiDAD is a growing online platform which offers free support and guidance to disadvantaged young dads while equipping them with new skills, such as film making, animation, research, podcasting, social marketing, video-gaming moderation, and digital youth work.

Visit DigiDAD Website
A man working on a laptop

Professor Tarrant and the research team have also developed the Centre for Innovation in Fatherhood and Family Research to continue their pioneering work to promote father-inclusion and to dismantle harmful prejudices around young dads while helping them to succeed.

The hybrid research and innovation centre will support training around father-inclusion and parent participation with a goal to become a centre of excellence in research and practice about family welfare.

Meet the Expert

Prof Anna Tarrant's research broadly focuses on men’s care responsibilities, welfare, and support needs, in low-income families and in contexts across the life course. She is author and co-author of several books exploring marginalised fatherhoods.

Discover More

Read more about Following Young Fathers Further and the innovative and impactful research that is taking place at the University of Lincoln.