Pressure is mounting on the government to reinstate the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care, or a body with a similar remit, as an e-petition is launched on the No 10 website.
The e-petition, launched last week by the Institute of Childcare and Social Education (ICSE), is calling on the government to re-establish the centre – which controversially lost its funding last year – or establish a new body to drive improvements in residential child care.
Social workers and children’s homes professionals are being urged to sign the petition, amid a groundswell of support from the sector.
“There is an enormous demand for another NCERCC or a similar body to be set up – something we hear from residential care professionals, local authorities, schools, professional associations,” said ICSE chair Vic Citarella.
Reinstating the NCERCC or establishing a new body would not require a huge budget and could be partly self-funded, Citarella said.
“Despite the current austerity measures and curb on quangos, the support offered by such a body is a proven and cost-effective way of minimising the well-publicised scandals of the past arising from abuse in children’s homes.
“We shall be calling on children’s minister Tim Loughton to confirm that, whatever happens, they won’t ignore the calls by the sector for such a body to be set up.”
Steve Lord, co-chair of the Independent Children’s Homes Association (ICHA), said the need for an independent source of expertise and collective memory for residential child care in England and Wales remained “vital”. “The reinstatement of funding for NCERCC would be a most welcome step,” he said.
The e-petition, which closes in November, will be presented to the children’s minister.
Since the NCERCC lost its funding in May 2010 concern has grown that residential child care has slipped down the political agenda.
Community Care is awaiting a response from the Department for Education.
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails