The growth of Children's Centres has seen the development of new ways of working with families by a variety of different workers. In this paper the authors report on a research project which examined how integrated working operates in practice within the different Children's Centres in one local authority in England. The authors explore strengths and difficulties of integrated working, and demonstrate how the opportunities and challenges presented are negotiated by Children's Centre workers and by more traditional service providers and professional groupings. The research project developed the user pathway model as a methodological tool to interrogate practice. Workshops were undertaken in 11 Children's Centres where internal and external partners, comprised of different professional groupings, worked together to map the pathway taken through their services by a virtual user. Findings indicate that whilst examples of integrated ways of working did exist, difficulties were also experienced. These difficulties and successes impact both on the way in which the service user experiences the work of Children's Centres and the outcomes that integrated working achieves. This paper shows how Children's Centres can present new opportunities and integrated ways of working, but may be restrained by more traditional professional working practices and managerial arrangements. © 2011 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
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