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A significant international development agenda in the practice of nurses supporting families with young children focuses on establishing partnerships between professionals and service users. Qualitative data were generated through interviews and focus groups with 22 nurses from three child and family health service organisations, two in Australia and one in New Zealand. The aim was to explore what is needed in order to sustain partnership in practice, and to investigate how the concept of practice architectures can help understand attempts to enhance partnerships between nurses and families. Implementation of the Family Partnership Model (FPM) is taken as a specific point of reference. Analysis highlights a number of tensions between the goals of FPM and practice architectures relating to opportunities for ongoing learning; the role of individual nurses in shaping the practice; relationships with peers and managers; organisational features; and extra-organisational factors. The concept of practice architectures shows how changing practice requires more than developing individual knowledge and skills, and avoids treating individuals and context separately. The value of this framework for understanding change with reference to context rather than just individual’s knowledge and skills is demonstrated, particularly with respect to approaches to practice development focused on providing additional training to nurses.