NCVCCO: Council contracts deny charity child care staff training

Local authority contracts are hindering the development of the voluntary sector child care workforce because they do not cover training costs, a third sector leader said this week.

National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations chief executive Maggie Jones told MPs and peers that the tendering system used by councils for children’s services contracts was “short-term and reactive” and mitigated against workforce development.

Addressing the all-party parliamentary group on children, Jones said: “Commissioners do not want to include workforce development costs within tender specifications. Local authorities often take the view that they don’t have the resources to pay for their own staff training so why should they pay for ours?”

Common assessment framework gap

Jones warned some organisations may struggle to train their staff for the common assessment framework, a requirement set out in Every Child Matters.

She called for a minimum term of three years for all public sector contracts, to allow voluntary sector staff to learn more about work practices and complete necessary courses.

Also addressing the meeting, Alan Coombe, the NSPCC’s policy adviser for safe communities, said the provision of training for safeguarding children in the voluntary sector was “patchy” across England, although Wales was performing better.

“Keeping children safe is a legitimate expectation for people providing services but equally it’s a legitimate cost to those commissioning services. The commissioners need to think about supporting providers more in this area.”

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