Engaging Parents in Parentline Plus’ Time to Talk Community Programme as Part of England’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy: Lessons for Policy and Practice


Mairi Ann Cullen, Senior Research Fellow, CEDAR, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK, Tel.: 024 765 22184; Fax: 024 7652 4472. E-mail: M-A.Cullen@warwick.ac.uk


Based on 65 interviews with professionals and parents conducted during 2007–2008, this 16-month, mainly qualitative evaluation of Parentline Plus’ Time to Talk Community Programme (a preventative initiative within England’s teenage pregnancy strategy) found that a community development approach and an ethos of partnership with parents and professionals facilitated engagement. Respectful and realistic implementation involved skilled workers building relationships of trust. By consulting with other professionals and parents it was possible to establish local need and to build on existing provision. Initially, insufficient prior local consultation and negotiation created perceptions of an imposed initiative, led by outsiders, resulting in wary local parents and professionals. The engagement and evaluation processes are considered in relation to the short-term nature of the initiative and potential conflicts between responding flexibly to the needs of parents and delivering targeted programmes.