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Parents Asking Parents

Project duration: 01/02/2015 - 31/01/2018

Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Gesine Bär, Prof. Dr. Theda Borde

Project staff: Ina Schaefer, Bettina Oesterle (until 30/04/2016), Louisa Bezela (until 14/07/2017), Azize Kasberg (until 01/10/2017)


  • Association of Health Promotion in Berlin
  • Municipal district Marzahn-Hellersdorf in Berlin
  • City of Lauchhammer
  • Network Healthy Children Niederlausitz

“ElfE: The Way to Day Care” is a subproject of the Research Consortium PartKommPlus - Healthy Communities through Integrated, Participatory Health Promotion Germany. PartKommPlus is a project of the German Network for Participatory Health Research (PartNet).


In Germany, a growing interest in combating health inequities at the local level is stated. 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 .V.. The background of the project was formed by present health reports in Germany regularly reveal developmental differences associated with the social living circumstances in early childhood. Due to these reports the research project “ElfE” aimed to examine health equities in families together with parents with pre-school children as peers. Embedded in the overall objective of supporting health equity in early childhood, the following project targets have been defined:

  • Enhancement of the participation of vulnerable families in developing integrated municipal strategies (IMS) in health promotion.
  • Integrating 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.

There were two basic working forms in two local case studies: A community advisory board and three peer-research teams. The entire research process was conducted by the research teams according to the leading principle: “Shared power to decide”. Thereby, the overarching theme was defined as the relationship of parents to their children’s pre-school teachers. According to the principals of the peer-research approach, several workshops were conducted in which parents developed the research questions, decided on semi-structured interviews as the methodology and analysed the 27 interviews based on the DEPICIT method and the Grounded Theory Methodology. 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 to participation and to encourage all parents.
  • The evolving communication between the community members and the local authorities must be based on trust. Transparent information about the progress of the research process is indispensable.
  • A selection of research products as communication instruments are needed to communicate the results to parents, childcare professionals, and policy developers.

The results of the first funding period under the title “Parents Asking Parents: A Way to Day Care” were the starting point and foundation for the second funding period called “Parents Asking Parents²: From 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.

(First funding period)

Publications that were published in the second funding phase can be found here.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Project webseite: partkommplus.de/teilprojekte/elfe

Key words: Participatory Health Research, Peer Research, Marginalised Groups, Daycare/Childcare Centres

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