DfE refuses to rule out review of children’s homes contract

The Department for Education (DfE) has refused to rule out a review of the contract awarded to a private consultancy group to support children's homes.

The Department for Education (DfE) has refused to rule out a review of the former government’s decision to award a contract for supporting and challenging children’s homes to a private consultancy group.

A spokeswoman said there were no plans “at the moment” to review the decision, but would not comment on whether the one-year contract was “non-negotiable” or if there were any future plans to review it. Tribal has also refused to comment on the status of its contract.

Campaigners and children’s homes professionals have pushed for the controversial decision – which saw funding transferred from the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC) to new contract holders Tribal – to be reviewed by the new coalition government.

Lord Listowel, vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for children and young people in care, raised the issue in the House of Lords this week. and said be believed there was another opportunity to look at the contact. He hoped the minister could at least “provide further information on why the decision as made”.

Speaking in parliament, Listowel said: “[The NCERCC] has a great deal of experience in residential childcare, so the government’s decision to switch funding to another organisation caused some consternation.”

He told Community Care he hoped the decision could be reviewed, in light of the “outstanding” contribution the NCERCC has made to the sector”.

The Support and Challenge contract, which critics claim has a far narrower remit than the NCERCC, was awarded to Tribal in April. Manager of the NCERCC, Jonathan Stanley, remains at the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), where the NCERCC was based, helping the NCB explore ways of continuing the centre’s remit and find alternative forms of funding.

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