Pen Portrait: Tracey Fry

I joined University Centre Doncaster in 2013 to study for a foundation degree in Early Childhood studies whilst being employed as a Family Support Worker. During this time, as my knowledge and skills in Early Years increased I progressed my career to become an Early Years Coordinator, managing the early years team across three Children Centres. After completing the Foundation Degree in 2016, I continued with my studies to complete a BA (Hons) Top Up in Early Childhood Studies. I have enjoyed the last four years at Doncaster University and and I have found that the knowledge and skills I have built up throughout my studies has support and enhanced my professional practice.


All children deserve the best start in life and every Local Authority has a duty to improve the well-being of young children living in their area to reduce inequalities between them by providing a range of universal services which are inclusive to all, promote child development and maximise outcomes for children (DfE, 2010).The purpose of this Research Project  was to ascertain why some families with children aged 0-1 years chose not to access Children Centre services and to identify ways to overcome potential barriers.

The research question was addressed through an Action Research Report. A range of data collection methods were used to provide both qualitative and quantitative data to compare and to support the understanding of the research question, through questionnaires with parents who are not accessing Children Centre services, interviews with practitioners, a midwife and Business Administrator and a focus group of three Children Centre practitioners.

The main finding from the questionnaires was families were unaware of the services that the Children Centre provides despite the majority of them accessing antenatal care in their local Children Centre.

Interviews with Children Centre practitioners and Business Admin identified that although parents do receive information regarding services provided, each family receives the same leaflet containing written information advertising activities. The midwife also shared that they provided little information on Children Centre services during antenatal appointments.

The literature review emphasised that the key time to engage families, is during transitional periods in their lives such as finding out they are pregnant or the birth of a child (Ward, 2009; APPG, 2015), therefore it is vital that all Children Centre staff and midwives are working in partnership to engage families within this short window of opportunity through the transitional period of being pregnant and becoming a new mum. To offer them information, support and guidance to improve parenting, foster positive outcomes and give children the best start in life (Field, 2010; Allen, 2011).

Download Full Dissertation

Click here to download ‘A research report to ascertain why some families with children aged 0-1 years choose not to access Children Centre services and to identify ways to overcome potential barriers.’ By Tracey Fry