Integrating partner professionals. The Early Explorers project: Peers Early Education Partnership and the health visiting service


Chris Coe, Warwick Infant and Family Well-being Unit, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. E-mail:


Background  A range of voluntary sector organizations are involved in the delivery of services to children, particularly within the Early Year's sector and children's centres. Peers Early Education Partnership (PEEP) Early Explorers project is one example of the way in which explicit partnerships are being forged across statutory and voluntary sectors with the aim of improving outcomes for children and families. This paper reports an exploration of stakeholder views and experiences of two Early Explorer clinics located in areas of high deprivation.

Methods  Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of stakeholders (n= 25) from children's centres, PEEP, the health visiting service and service users. Data were fully transcribed and analysed using a thematic approach.

Results  The data suggest that the two key groups of stakeholders providing Early Explorer clinics (i.e. health visitors and PEEP practitioners) had quite different objectives in terms of their early goals for the clinic, but that despite these differences good progress was achieved in terms of working together effectively. All stakeholders including service users referred to the presence of PEEP as having improved the quality of the clinic environment, and participating mothers identified a wide range of benefits from the enhanced service. However, somewhat restricted views about the role of practitioners within the clinics were identified by users, and the findings suggest that although the early goals for the clinic had been exceeded, these may have been limited in terms of true ‘partnership’ working.

Conclusions  Early Explorer clinics appeared to have enhanced the service provided within traditional child health clinics and to have provided practitioners with access to hard-to-reach families and parents with access to services that are consistent with the broader policy aims of improving parent–infant interaction. However, questions remain as to whether the benefit of ‘partnership’ working was fully realized.