Master's Thesis from the year 2010 in the subject Sociology - Political Sociology, Majorities, Minorities, grade: distinction, London School of Economics (Department of Social Policy), course: MSc Social Policy and Planning, language: English, abstract: It is widely acknowledged that family factors have a decisive impact on children's opportunities in life. Following its landslide victory in 1997, New Labour initiated Sure Start, a cross-departmental programme intended to combat child poverty and social inequality by providing comprehensive family-centred services to children in pre-school age and their families. First evidence, however, points to significant difficulties in reaching minority ethnic families. This paper seeks to explore conditions for engaging effectively with minority ethnic families in Sure Start Children's Centres. Effective engagement is defined as provision which is accessible to as well as inclusive of users and has positive outcomes measured against policy, practitioner and user objectives. Given the significant diversity of ethnic groups and limitations of previous research, existing evidence on ethnicity and Early Years provision is complemented by findings of a case study on the experience of Somali parents in a South London Community. It will be argued that Children's Centres' potential for effective engagement can be enhanced through a) considering individual/ethno-specific factors as well as regulatory and physical contexts in service design; b) well-trained staff and adequate resourcing; and c) actively involving parents in service planning, delivery and evaluation. It will also be suggested that the ability to offer inclusive services is constrained by systemic tensions arising from the rapid expansion of service provision and the underlying target and performance management model.
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