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Health Soc Care Community. 2009 Nov;17(6):659-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2009.00870.x. Epub 2009 Jul 22.

Forming partnerships with parents from a community development perspective: lessons learnt from Sure Start.

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Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


The aim of this study is to explore some of the issues of service user participation in the planning and delivery of public services from a community development perspective. It draws on an action research evaluation study of a local Sure Start programme, which was introduced into an area without a tradition of community involvement in decisions about local services. The study describes and analyses the challenges of parent participation in the organisation and delivery of the Sure Start programme at an operational and strategic level, using findings from semi-structured interviews, observations and critical conversations with Sure Start parents, staff and members of the Sure Start management board. The main substantive findings are that there was a lack of shared understanding of the nature of parent participation in all its facets and this undermined the efforts of parents and staff in the development of the programme. These findings also raise broader issues about participation, the place of parental partnerships with professionals and ways in which collaboration between the two may be interpreted and evolve.

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