Children’s Centres

Our experience

Coda has over 12 years’ experience in consulting parents and carers about services for children and families. We have been working with Children’s Centres since they were first established, having previously worked with Sure Start local programmes. We work with individual centres, regional clusters and with Children’s Centre programmes across whole local authority areas.

Coda continues to work with Children’s Centres throughout the country on evidence-based research projects that demonstrate the impact and outcomes of their provision. We also undertake research to investigate the reach of Children’s Centres and the reasons why some local families may not be accessing them.

Clients in 2014 and 2015 include:

  • Spurgeons Buckinghamshire
  • Spurgeons Northamptonshire
  • Spurgeons Wiltshire
  • Lincolnshire County Council
  • Bristol City Council
  • Somerset County Council
  • Bournemouth Barnardos
  • Swindon Council
  • Central Greenwich Children’s Centres
  • London Borough of Waltham Forest

Increasing take up and building reach

There may be families in your Children’s Centre’s reach area that could benefit from your services but are not currently using them. There are lots of different reasons why some families don’t engage with Children’s Centres. Coda is highly experienced in designing and conducting consultation that specifically investigates this. We can carry out surveys of parents who are either lapsed users or who have never used your services. This is conducted in your local community and can include families that can be hard to reach. The consultation is usually done through a face to face questionnaire, but we can also convene focus groups or undertake structured telephone interviews.

The consultation can also serve as outreach for your centre. By talking to families in your local community we can spread the message about what you do, and even complete registration forms with parents.

Many Children’s Centre leaders have found the results of this kind of research invaluable in helping them plan how to reach out effectively to families who aren’t engaging with their services, and to ensure that their Children’s Centre is helping the families that most need it.

User consultation

Coda can help measure the impact and outcomes of your Children’s Centre’s services by undertaking structured consultation with your current users.

Coda has expertise in consulting users through a variety of survey methods. We specialise in face-to-face assisted questionnaire surveys – where a parent is interviewed using a short clipboard questionnaire. We can also consult with your users through structured telephone interviews or focus groups. We would work with you to design the consultation method that best suits your needs.

In-depth case studies


The impact that Children’s Centres have on individual families can sometimes be difficult to measure. The benefits to parents can be subtle or life-changing, and sometimes only apparent in retrospect. Often the impact of a parent’s contact with a Children’s Centre can stay with them and influence their subsequent life.

An in-depth case study interview with a current or previous user of a Children’s Centre can provide clear and compelling evidence of the impact it has had on that parent’s life.

Coda has provided case study research for many Children’s Centres. Normally we would interview between six and ten parents selected by the senior staff. Ideally, these parents will have a range of backgrounds and circumstances, with different experiences of the Children’s Centre. These will help to create a comprehensive picture of the various ways your services have benefited families. The interviews are written up into a final report document that can be a very useful tool for demonstrating the benefits of your work to funders (and Ofsted).

Marketing and communications

Coda can provide Children’s Centres with strategic communications support and produce eye-catching publications and material, such as information flyers and newsletters. We can help with branding and the development of a marketing and communications strategy.

We can also develop a social media presence for your centre on Facebook and Twitter, and help you to manage these as communications channels to your local families.