Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Parental empowerment in Sure Start programmes

March 2004 - October 2005

Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) formed a central part of the Government's antipoverty agenda from the end of the 1990s. The programmes seek to integrate and expand health, childcare, early education and family support services to families with young children living in economically deprived areas.

Through providing flexible, respectful, transparent and inclusive services that involve and respond to the needs of parents, the aim was to engage with and empower parents.

Such an approach marks a significant break with past professional practices, which had a more hierarchical, formal and expert basis to the provider/user relationship. Such engagement was also considered to bring benefits for parent-child relationships and to combat social exclusion by developing community cohesion.

This study was commissioned by the National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS), to take a closer look at parents' experiences of empowerment, at the forms and effects of mutual support, self-help and community action that have been developed, and at the significance of these for work in Sure Start programmes.

The study investigates how, and in what ways, the practices of Sure Start local programmes in six case study localities are facilitating individual and community empowerment. Its findings are presented in the publications below.

Project Publications

Fiona Williams and Harriet Churchill (2006) Empowering Parents in Sure Start Programmes, Research Report for the National Evaluation of Sure Start, Department for Education and Science, Research Publication, London.

Fiona Williams (2008) 'Empowering parents' In: A. Anning and M. Ball,  Learning from Sure Start: Improving Services for Children and Families, Sage.

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