The project “Parents asking Parents” (in German: „Eltern fragen Eltern“ (abbr. ElfE)) was part of the publicly funded PartKommPlus Research Consortium and initiated by the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences and the Consortium for Health Promotion Gesundheit Berlin-Brandenburg e.V. The background of the project was formed by currant health reports in Germany which regularly reveal developmental differences associated with the social living circumstances in early childhood (e.g., a higher percentage of children living in problematic/difficult living environments show motoric and linguistic developmental disorders compared to those who are reporting a better living situation). According to these findings, the research project “ElfE” aimed to examine health equity in families in cooperation with parents with pre-school children. Embedded in the overall objective of supporting health equity in early childhood, the following project aims have been defined:
- Enhancement of the participation of vulnerable families in developing integrated municipal strategies (IMS) in health promotion.
- Integration of peer-research at the municipal level to develop strategies and products as instruments to enforce parental participation in decision making processes.
- Development and refinement of methods which can be used by the municipality and other relevant stakeholders to implement peer research in the context of strategy development.
The project structure of both ElfE case studies (the district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf in Berlin, and the rural community of Lauchhammer in the county of Oberspreewald-Lausitz in the state of Brandenburg) includes two core elements: The first is a municipal steering group consisting of various stakeholders from the daycare sector for the purpose of collaborative research. Secondly, there were research teams in both case studies consisting of parents of daycare-age children (total n=19) and the academic researchers. Three research teams were formed that met regularly in research workshops in which ongoing participation in project decisions and training in research methods were made possible.
The entire research process was conducted by the research teams according to the leading principle: “shared decision-making”. Following the peer research approach, parents conducted research as peers on the collaboratively developed and decided research topic: "How can collaboration between parents and daycare professionals be improved?" According to the principles of peer-research, several workshops were conducted in which the research teams worked jointly on the research questions and the methodology. The peer researcher decided on the methodology of semi-structured interviews, jointly developed the interview guide, and conducted overall 27 interviews with parents, four of them were held in Russian. The analysis of the interviews was carried out based on grounded theory methodology (GTM). The results were discussed with professionals in the field of childcare and relevant local stakeholders. Derived from the interviews and the reflexion within the research workshops the main results are the following:
- Preschools should be further strengthened as a key setting for supporting health equity. This enhances their integration in the IMS.
- Well-established organisations (e.g. family centres) are important to integrate all relevant groups. Staff members need to be open and encourage all parents to actively involve.
- The evolving communication between the community members and the local authorities need to be based on trust. Transparent information about the progress of the research process is indispensable.
Research products need to be tailored according to their different audiences to communicate the results to parents, childcare professionals, and policy developers.
The results of the first funding period were the starting point and foundation of the second funding phase called “Parents Asking Parents²: From a Model Project to the Field”.
A comprehensive overview of all publications and results (mainly in German) of the first and second project funding period is accessible on the open access publication server aliceOpen of the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences.
For all publications (first and second funding period) in German and English please return to the front page.