DADS in Oxfordshire need to have access to parenting programmes and father-centric activities as austerity looms, Oxfordshire Parenting Forum (OPF) has said.

A study published today following two years of outreach work has called for support to be laid on at remaining children's centres so fathers feel included.

Work to bring fathers into the fold over the last 10 years was hailed as a "success story for Oxfordshire" but one under threat "at a time of service reduction".

At present, only 18 children's centres of 44 in Oxfordshire are due to continue receiving funding.

Chris Sewell, who was chairman of OPF at the time the report was compiled, said: "We decided to take stock of where we were and what's happening in Oxfordshire.

"It's not entirely a children's centre initiative working with fathers but certainly they have been at the forefront of developing practice.

"They are now undergoing a radical change and we are looking to ensure that those centres that continue will be a model for that good practice."

For the report, OPF analysed a range of male-only or father-centric services, including including 'Man Enough' parenting skills programmes, the 'Disco Dadz' dance sessions in deprived parts of Oxford, and camp-outs and fun days organised by the Sovereign Housing Association to look at the benefits they offered.

In 2011 the Oxfordshire county average for children's centres reaching all fathers with a child under five years old was 15.9 per cent.

By 2014 this had risen to 26.36 per cent but between April 2015 and March 2016 the figure had dropped for the first time, back to 23.53 per cent, which the report suggested was due to budget cuts.

Stay-at-home dad Martin Thompson, 38 – who has attended parenting classes, baby massage and a 'dad's club' at Grandpont Children's Centre with his two young children –said the service had been "really helpful."

He added: "To know you are not alone and be able to network with other dads has made a big difference.

"We would be concerned to see it carry on. The work that has been done seems really worthwhile."