Case Study: Young parents

27 April 2010

Children’s centre consults with hard-to-reach young parents and identifies a training course to build self-esteem and skills for work, which they all attend.

Starting point and evidence of need

Attempts to engage young parents aged 18-22 had been extremely limited. The children’s centre had via outreach visited an established group of target young parents aged 18-22 at a local community hall and consulted on what they might attend at the children’s centre.

The group were apprehensive about being judged by older parents, about there being snobbery among families who attend the children’s centre and about the possibility of more boundaries than they were currently used to. A new approach was required.

The young parents agreed that if their volunteer leader would come along with them, they would come to the children’s centre for a coffee time. The date was agreed and arrangements made for them to come along as a whole group to feel comfortable and supported. Not one person turned up on that occasion.

After that, consultation was undertaken with Connexions and another date was set to meet young parents known to Connexions, again no one turned up. Then contact was made with Catch 22 for a support worker to offer an open group for young parents to have a safe space to talk and request training and take ownership of the group. One parent attended until her peer group found out and she stopped attending.

Work undertaken

Prior to meeting again, the coordinator made contact with a voluntary sector training service to find out what training they could offer and what criteria applicants would have to meet. The young parents were asked what training they might be interested in.

Once this groundwork was completed, the coordinator met with the young parents and a course that built self-esteem and some skills for work was identified. Parents not present were sent the information. Dates were agreed and the coordinator worked with the volunteer to agree the best times and gain her support.


Hard-to-reach families had a positive experience of the children’s centre, linked with other local families and gained a certificate for the 4me course, increasing confidence. Two families discussed 2-year-old funding for nursery and looked round the nursery on site. The tutor commented that he was pleased with what had been achieved and that all had participated.

Why was it successful?

The group were approached by a familiar person whom they trusted and were consulted in a non-invasive way through chatting in their familiar group. They were listened to and the right course identified. The volunteer leader was reassured and retained her role throughout. It served to break down misconceptions and open communication, gave families a taste of what the children’s centre could offer them and a starting block from which to further develop this link.