The appointment of consultancy group Tribal to support and improve residential children’s homes has raised fears for the future of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC).
The government’s decision to award the contract to Tribal and ask it to raise standards by challenging the sector is seen as controversial by some.
The move has left the future of the NCERCC in doubt, after the government announced it would no longer fund it to fulfil its previous function of sector-led improvement.
A Department of Children, Schools and Families spokesperson said: “We have set Tribal a clear agenda for raising standards in children’s homes. This work will include engaging with stakeholders including Ofsted and, in particular, with the sector to discuss areas of concern.”
The move has worried many in the sector who believe the NCERCC’s work around social pedagogy and therapeutic practice could disappear, with Tribal being given a much narrower remit from the government to “challenge and support” children’s homes.
Kevin Gallagher, chief executive of the Bryn Melyn Group and chair of the Charterhouse Group of therapeutic communities, said the NCERCC had been “instrumental in driving improvements in residential care and is a well-respected as a repository for best practice”. He said the Charterhouse Group was looking at ways to save the current body of work that the NCERCC had developed.
Phil Frampton, former chair of the UK Care Leavers’ Association, was critical of Tribal’s selection. “This could be really damaging to the sector and we could see many of the smaller children’s homes and organisations being merged or taken over,” he said.
However, the DCSF spoksperson said Tribal’s bid included a team with a “wealth of expertise and knowledge”, including Janet Rich, children’s services development officer of the National Care Association.
The National Children’s Bureau, which hosts the NCERCC, stated it would try to maintain a beneficial presence in the sector.
NCERCC loses government funding