AIM AND OBJECTIVE: To explore partnership in care with a small sample of children’s nurses in an inner city trust. (i) To obtain local data on what a sample of children’s nurses understand by partnership in care and to what degree partnership in care is evident in their practice; (ii) where feasible, to compare these data with national and international literatures describing partnership in care and provide pointers that will be useful in contributing and responding to the children’s national service framework. BACKGROUND: Partnership in care has been practised within children’s nursing in UK for over a decade, but is an amorphous topic. More recently, it has been suggested that partnership in care can be described as a part of the spectrum of family-centred care. An exploratory study with 10 experienced children’s nurses was undertaken to determine what they understood by the term partnership in care. RESULTS: Seven categories emerged from the data: attitudes, respect for family, communication, parent understanding, effective partnership, all parties (satisfied) and improved well-being. CONCLUSION: It is suggested that a negative approach to one of the first four categories leads to ineffective partnership in care. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Attitudes, respect for the family and communication should improve to enhance the practice of partnership in care. Respect for the child and family and communication have both been identified as important qualities within the new National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services. Further research is suggested to determine the applicability of these findings to other members of the multi-disciplinary team.