In celebration of the Global Day of Parents, the Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE) has launched a series of initiatives aimed at promoting a more supportive family environment to encourage holistic early childhood development in the UAE. These initiatives are outcomes of local research funded by the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), the initiatives and are designed to empower parents by equipping them with the tools and knowledge to actively participate in their children’s upbringing.

ECAE held a session highlighting the findings of a research study titled Fathers in Abu Dhabi Workplaces: Uncovering Support Systems and Challenges. This study, funded by ECA's research grant programme and led by Dr Martina Dickson, Professor in Curriculum and Instruction Division at ECAE, examines how fathers in Abu Dhabi balance work and fatherhood. The report details the experiences of 51 fathers working in diverse sectors, including academia, healthcare, and finance and over 40 young children.

The findings highlight key support mechanisms for working fathers in Abu Dhabi, including flexible working hours, financial aid for school fees and a workplace culture that celebrates new fathers. It also outlines challenges that working fathers face, the report concludes with recommendations sourced from Abu Dhabi fathers on how workplaces can better support fathers’ engagement in the development of their young children.

Marking a significant step towards inclusive and supportive parenting education, ECAE, in partnership with Special Olympics UAE and MBR-NECC, also launched Parenting Values: Taking Care of Yourself and Your Children, a free six-week pilot training programme was also launched. This initiative is designed for parents of children of determination aged 2-7 years.  This cohort focuses on fathers following the success of the same programme previously held for mothers.  

In line with the 2024 theme of the Global Day of Parents, The Promise of Playful Parenting, the training, funded by an ECA research grant, will offer interactive and play-based sessions that enhance parent-child bonding and support the development of parenting skills. Sessions will be held weekly until 2 July 2024, with every alternate session allowing fathers to bring their children, enabling the application of learned techniques in real-time to boost confidence in parenting roles.

On 6 June 2024, ECAE will host a panel session on Father-Child Interactive Shared Reading: A Partnership to Promote Literacy, Engagement, and Well-Being. This panel will explore the benefits of fathers participating in literacy activities with their children, drawing on a study funded by ECA’s research programme and conducted with UAE National fathers across Abu Dhabi.

The discussion will outline the impact of a shared, interactive book reading training on 80 UAE National fathers and their young children, emphasising the positive impact on fathers’ wellbeing, sense of joy, and stronger bonds with their children. ECAE faculty members leading this project, Dr Kay Gallagher, Professor of Counseling Special Education and Neuroscience Division at ECAE, and Dr Anna Dillon, Associate Professor at ECAE, will further discuss the study's findings with participants and explore how father-led literacy initiatives can bolster young children’s development and support family wellbeing.

The Global Day of Parents initiatives are open to all interested parents free of charge.