Early years provision in the UK is an immensely varied patchwork of services. Family centres are one of the services which have become increasingly popular in recent years. In this report the views of workers, local authority staff and parents are assessed to determine how Save the Children family centres meet the needs of families with young children living in disadvantaged areas of the UK. The report reveals the practical meaning of community based, open access provision and examines how the centres meet local need through operating in this way. This report should be useful to all those involved with childcare services as it identifies the key elements that contribute to successful provision. It also argues that there is a need for a national policy on childcare to ensure that all children and families have access to the benefits of flexible high quality provision.