Sound research with an early years and children's services specialism

If you are looking for research informed by a sound understanding of early years, childcare, parenting, and children’s centres, combined with robust research and evaluation techniques, we would like to hear from you.

You will find our reports are written for every audience; public (child, young person, parent, and community) and local authority officers, partners and leadership. Our clients constantly tell us our reports are not only well-written, they also contain informed analysis, practical and evidenced recommendations, and operational and strategic policy links for now and the future.

Our work has included some of the major initiatives in the sector and has changed over time. We are community focused enough so we can do one-to-one interviews with a sensitive and engaging approach in all communities and situations, with an ability to carefully manage any local political sensitivity. Our childcare sufficiency assessment programme is extensive and makes us a leader in this field. It incorporates public consultations (questionnaire surveys, interviews, phone surveys and focus groups), desk research, gap analysis and mapping of provision against demand and need. Looking further back to our own early years we delivered many childcare audits, sure start consultations, local programme external independent evaluations, and childcare workforce surveys. We are big enough for high volume telephone surveys, such as 2,000 parent telephone interviews started and finished in three weeks. Our research is focused on children’s centre reviews, childcare sufficiency annual reports, matching mapping and demand data to creating two-year-old places, sufficiency for 30-hours of childcare, parent satisfaction surveys, and independent evaluation.

Children’s centre reviews and parent consultations

Having been comprehensively involved in setting up Sure Start local programmes and children’s centres, and having a long-term role in supporting their regular evaluation and review, we are passionate about ensuring reviews at this stage of the programme are fit for purpose. The best children’s centres fully involve the whole community, have effective outreach work, and change and respond to the needs of their users. What’s clear is that every penny spent on early intervention and the least advantaged families’ needs to be well-spent. We consider well-sent funding to be that which makes a positive and demonstrable impact for the child, family and community. It is also funding that is efficiently used, so that more can be achieved within budget and that precious resources are not wasted. What’s essential in reviewing children’s centre delivery is that everyone’s voice needs to be included, valued and listened to. What’s important for some, is not always considered by others. Collecting views in a robust and rounded way is vital to ensure reviews are inclusive, real, locally appropriate and inform the best decision-making processes for the future of the programme.

Accessible and appropriate focus groups

Focus groups are a vitally important element of a rounded research or evaluation project. They are also part of the relationship a commissioning organisation has with its user group. This means the choice of who to present and deliver a group is crucial. Groups need to be designed and delivered sensitively and differentiated for its members. They need to allow participants a sense of control, offer choice, and achieve informed consent. We know, through our experience, and the feedback we receive, that we get this right. We’d be pleased to hear from you if you would like to discuss focus groups with: parents, young people, children, community members, specialist interest groups, disabled young people and adults, partners, or employees.

Childcare Works