ISAFE: Improving Safeguarding through Audited Father-Engagement

ISAFE aims to improve local authority children’s service’s engagement with fathers

ISAFE: Improving Safeguarding through Audited Father-Engagement


This protocol summaries plans for a full scale randomised controlled trial of the ISAFE training programme

Who, what, why and how?

There have been examples of services not routinely or systematically engaging, supporting and challenging men in families. Improving Safeguarding through Audited Father-Engagement (ISAFE) is a training and organisational development intervention which responds to this issue. Developed by the Fatherhood Institute (FI) and CASCADE, the programme aims to improve engagement with fathers by local authority children’s services.

This evaluation will assess how effective ISAFE is and will include a total of 48 teams (eight local authorities; six teams in each) made up of approximately 10 social workers in each team. The teams will be randomly allocated to the treatment or control group and the training courses are delivered online to groups of up to 15 participants per session.

The ISAFE intervention is made up of complementary training sessions, delivered in sequence to key groups of staff. The sessions include:
1. Training programme for children and family social workers covering two modules:
i) father engagement techniques
ii) motivational interviewing.
2. Quality assurance (QA) audit training focused on how to monitor social workers’ father-engagement routinely and systematically.
3. Champion training of middle-management social workers, to help them lead and support their colleagues to do the best possible job engaging with fathers.
4. A webinar delivered to local authority senior leaders, to push through changes in policies and systems that will make father engagement part of LA’s routine, everyday work.

Research Questions

The evaluation of the ISAFE intervention will include a randomised controlled trial (RCT) (a (non-blinded two-armed full-scale), an implementation and process evaluation (IPE) and a cost analysis.

For the RCT, Ipsos UK will explore the effectiveness of ISAFE through:

  • primary outcome: father engagement practices among social workers in children’s social care services – measured using an adapted version of the Father Engagement Questionnaire.
  • secondary outcomes:
    • the rates of father engagement, self-efficacy and team culture – measured through self-reported measures from social workers.

Outcome measures will be collected through an online survey at three time points: baseline (before ISAFE begins), endline (after ISAFE finishes), and a three-month follow-up.

The implementation and process evaluation will explore factors affecting implementation to understand how and why ISAFE does or does not have the desired impact.

Delivery Partners

The Fatherhood Institute

Evaluation partners

Due Date

This project is due to be completed by February 2025.

Intervention Protocol


Evaluation Protocol


Related Projects

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH)

Use of evidence-based tools and guidance in service design and commissioning