The future of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC) is uncertain after the government announced it would no longer fund the organisation.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families announced that the contract for the Support and Challenge programme, a scheme to improve the quality of residential care, had been awarded to consultancy group Tribal.
NCERCC has been responsible for driving improvements across the sector for the last four years, but was heavily reliant on government funding. Tribal will begin work on the project in May.
A DCSF spokesperson said: “NCERCC’s funding for the work was due to end in March 2010 and could not be extended beyond this date without completing a tender exercise.
“Tribal were awarded the work after successfully completing a formal tender process including rigorous assessment. Following this process Tribal’s team put in a stronger bid.
“Tribal brings to the project a talented multi-disciplinary team with a wealth of expertise and knowledge in residential care, including well respected people in the field such as Janet Rich, and previous success of successful delivery of similar programmes of work.
The spokesperson said the decision was not financially motivated. “Both NCERCC and Tribal were bidding for the same amount of money, and whatever the outcome the award would have been for the same amount.”
He said the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), which works in partnership with NCERCC, had been awarded a funding extension for two months to help ease the transition and manage the handover.
Sheryl Burton, director of social inclusion at the NCB, said she was “disappointed” at the government’s decision to award the contract to the Tribal Group.
“We have been grateful for government funding to support NCERCC over the past four-and-a-half years. Naturally we are disappointed that the government’s focus and strategy for supporting and developing the sector has changed.”
Burton said the NCB was “actively considering how we can sustain a beneficial presence in this area”.
Community Care is awaiting a more detailed response from the DCSF. The Department has not responded to direct questions about why Tribal’s tender was considered “stronger”.