The increasing ethnic diversity of the UK has been mirrored by growing public awareness of multicultural issues, alongside developments in academic and government thinking. This paper explores the contested meanings around ethnic identity/ies in community settings, drawing on semi-structured interviews with staff from Children’s Centres and allied agencies conducted for a research project that examined the relationship between identity and the participation of parents/carers in services in northeast England. The research found that respondents were unclear about, especially, white ethnic identities, and commonly referred to other social categorizations, such as age, nationality, and circumstances such as mobility, when discussing service users. While in some cases this may have reflected legitimate attempts to resist overethnicizing non-ethnic phenomena, such constructions coexisted with assumptions about ethnic difference and how it might translate into service needs. These findings raise important considerations for policy and practice.