Feedback From Parents :
Using an Action Research
Approach to Evaluate a Local Sure
Start Programme
Tameron Chappell
Jessica Schafer
22 April 2002
Health Services Research Unit
Talk Outline
• Rose Hill – Littlemore Sure Start evaluation
• What is Action Research?
• Parent feedback as an example
Rose Hill - Littlemore Sure Start
• Trailblazer
• About 640 children (300+ families)
• About 150 new births per year
• Lead partner was a charity
• Now Board of Trustees
Rose Hill - Littlemore Sure Start Evaluation
• Health Services Research Unit, University of
• Independent evaluation
• 6% of Sure Start’s budget = £36,000/yr
• Began in August 2000, with 2 researchers
Objectives of the Evaluation
1) ‘What makes a difference’ to local
parents, and feed this back to Sure Start
2) Look at how the programme is working
internally, and improve internal feedback
• Director of Health Services Research Unit
• Director of Sure Start
• Research Advisory Group
– meets quarterly
– mixed membership
•Has ethical clearance
Action Research
Sure Start’s
Sure Start workers /
Research team
(instigate change)
Strategic planning
(action plan / theme for
further investigation)
Research and
(Interviews etc.
• Interviews
Staff : 33 conducted
Parents : 18 conducted (target of 20)
• Parent diaries: Written or audio
6 given out - 2 returned
• Questionnaires to Board members
17 sent out - 6 returned
• Participant observation: meetings, events
Parent interviews
Target : 20 interviews
– 10 Rose Hill, 10 Littlemore
– Of these, 5 using services, 5 not
– At least 1 Asian parent in each section
– No access to database, no ‘cold-calling’
– Playgroups, health visitors, Asian support workers,
child literacy groups, ‘snowball’ (friends of friends)
User vs. non-user distinction
• Am I a service user?
• Some services existed before Sure Start
• Sure Start ‘stamp’
Finding ‘true’ non-users
• Use the database without names
• Postal invitation
• Parents’ initiative
Interview discussion topics
E n v iro n m e n t a n d
in fra s tru c tu re
F e e d b a c k c h a n n e ls
S o c ia l tru s t
P a rtic ip a tio n in
d e c is io n -m a k in g s tru c tu re s
S u p p o rt w ith c h ild re n
In te r-a g e n c y c o -o rd in a tio n
U s e o f s e rv ic e s
H o p e s fo r th e fu tu re
C o n s tru c tiv e
c ritic is m a n d p o s itiv e
fe e d b a c k o n s e rv ic e s
What parents like about Sure Start (1)
– New skills (cooking, sewing, computing)
– Voluntary work
– Parenting skills
– Computer classes
– Support for post-natal depression
For me personally, it has just been a life saver because I think
I would have got even more and more depressed. I got to the
point where I didn’t want [my child] at all. I wanted to like
hurt myself and it is sort of coming here that really did... [The
Sure Start health visitor] sorted it out because she arranged
for me to go and see OXPIP [Oxford Parent Infant
Programme], she phoned up and did all that for me which was
just like “wow, marvellous” that somebody that I don’t really
know would do something so nice for me and that is how I felt
just so “wow”.
What parents like (2)
– Day-trips (e.g. Brighton, Child Beale)
– Non-discriminatory services
– Funding for child care
– Home Start (weekly volunteer support in
the home)
What parents like (3)
– Improved communication between
– Early literacy and parent/child
I think the biggest message that PEEP gives is that
what you’re doing as a parent anyway was the right
thing. You know, and I could actually go along there
and all the kind of worries that I’d ever had in the
past about how I’d done things the first time round,
that I could actually sit back and say “Well, you were
doing it right.” But there was never anybody to say
that at the time […] I was suddenly confident as a
Things parents would like to see
A ctiv itie s fo r o ld e r
ch ild re n /y o u th
C a re e r a d v ice a n d
g u id a n ce
P a rk s
M o re o r o th e r
co u rse s a n d tra in in g
C le a n a n d sa fe
e n v iro n m e n t fo r p la y
L e isu re ce n tre
B e tte r h o u sin g
R o a d sa fe ty
m e a su re s
D ro p -in crè ch e
P h y sica l a ctiv itie s fo r
ch ild re n
A ffo rd a b le ch ild
ca re
Sure Start’s responses to unmet needs
• Lead role in youth project
• Support for parent volunteers to hold youth
• Lobby on housing issue
• ‘Planning for Real’ initiative
• Lobby on public transport
Sure Start’s responses to unmet needs (2)
• Work on environmental issues
• Police drop-in at family centre
• Regular monthly trips
• Tumble Tots
• Drop-in creche
Obstacles to using Sure Start services
• Stigma
• Lack of information
• Social barriers
• Cultural barriers
• Transportation
Sure Start’s responses to obstacles identified
Targeted service extended to allow some use by all
families, and publicity revised to make this more clear
Stigma of Family Centre
– New physical infrastructure
– New code of conduct & confidentiality policies
Information strategy in planning stages
Action research approach
• Immediate feedback after interviews
• Feedback to Research Advisory Group
• Away Days topic
• Action plan and sub-group

Parent Feedback on Sure Start