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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 01:19 GMT 02:19 UK
Absentee black fathers on agenda
Actors in 'Babyfather' dramatisation
Babyfather looked at black men's relationships with their children
The reasons some black men fail to help raise their children will be discussed at a national conference on fatherhood.

Research into absent black fathers will be presented at a Babyfather Initiative forum at the Fathers Direct conference being held in central London.

The initiative aims to combat negative stereotypes of black fathers.

Barnardo's, which set it up, said many black men played significant roles in their children's lives but the reasons some did not needed to be examined.

The Babyfather Initiative is a joint project between Barnardo's and the Babyfather Alliance set up by author Patrick Augustus.

Some black men aren't playing as full a role in their children's lives as they should be
Errol John
Babyfather Initiative

Mr Augustus wrote the book Babyfather - dramatised by the BBC - which focused on a group of black men's relationships with their children and partners.

The term "babyfather" is Caribbean slang for a man who does not live with his children - who often have different mothers.

Research in 2002 showed more than half the heads of black Caribbean households with dependent children were lone parents.

And last March Commission for Racial Equality chairman Trevor Phillips implied some absent fathers were partially to blame for the under-achievement of black boys at school.

Barnardo's spokesman Errol John said the Babyfather Initiative acknowledged there were problems to be tackled.


"Some black men aren't playing as full a role in their children's lives as they should be.

"That's an issue we don't shy away from when talking to communities, along with the political stuff that needs addressing," he said.

Mr John said part of the project involved roadshows which set up meetings for black men to come and discuss fatherhood.

They also aimed to work with local social work agencies to help them engage with black fathers, he added.

Mr Augustus and theologian and academic Dr Robert Beckford will be among those giving perspectives on black family life to the 1,000 delegates at the Fathers Direct conference on Tuesday.

Social work practitioners from both the UK and US will also share their experiences of involving black men in their children's upbringing.

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