Petition to Re-establish NCERCC

The following text was prepared by the Institute of Childcare and Social Education (ICSE) in support of the petition to the Prime Minister to re-establish the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care, or a body with a similar remit. See this month’s Editorial: Sign Up!






Institute of Childcare and Social Education

in association with the Social Care Association

Petition to Prime Minister

Petition to Re-establish the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC), or an organisation with a similar remit

Short Name of Petition NCERCC

Organisation Institute of Childcare and Social Education

Person Vic Citarella, Chair ICSE

Address Institute of Childcare and Social Education

c/o Social Care Association

350 West Barnes Lane, Motspur Park, New Malden, Surrey KT3 6NB

Description Following Sir William Utting’s two reports in 1991 and 1997 on residential child care services, there was a long sector-led campaign under the name of Momentum to establish an organisation which would provide leadership, support and advice to children’s homes in England and Wales. (A similar body, the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (SIRCC), had already been established in Scotland following the Kent Report.)

The previous government agreed to fund NCERCC, which was based at the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) from 2004. It built up a network of contacts throughout the children’s homes and residential schools in the private, voluntary and local authority sectors, provided training, advice and consultancy, organised national conferences and seminars, prepared policy advice documents and acted as a point of reference for information about residential child care for all types of organisations, including government departments. It was widely respected and its conferences became the key focal events for the sector.

On completion of a period of funding the previous government awarded the funds which could have continued to finance NCERCC to Tribal, who acted as consultants on a wide range of issues but who were not specialists in the residential care field. The present government terminated the contract with Tribal before it got under way. NCB provided financial support for NCERCC out of reserves for some months, but eventually had to close the organisation. The consequent absence of any independent body to provide leadership, support and advice for residential child care services caused considerable alarm and disquiet within the sector. The Department for Education has initiated a small unit to work in this sector, but it is not independent and it is understandably working to the government’s agenda, rather than responding to the expressed needs of the services.

It is proposed that NCERCC – or a similar body – be re-established to fulfil the functions of the defunct organisation. It needs to be independent, with a governing and/or advisory body representing key sector interests, such as local authorities, the voluntary and private sectors and professional associations.

Although essentially independent, the body could be attached to another organisation for pay and rations and support, as the staff team is likely to be small. Possible host organisations include the NCB, the Social Care Institute of Excellence, a university and the ICSE, which is linked to the Social Care Association.

The organisation should obtain its funding through the work it undertakes and through subscriptions, but the core funding (initially, at least) should come from central government. It is suggested that the absolute minimum should be a grant of £100k per annum for three years, to allow time for the body to establish other sources of finance. This would suffice for one professional officer and administrative support.

Both NCERCC and SIRCC have provided models of what can be achieved with such an organisation. In the absence of leadership, support and advice from an organisation of this sort the residential child care services of England will be vulnerable to failure. The cost of such failure will be largely human in terms of the suffering of children and young people whose needs are not met, but the financial costs are also likely to outweigh the core costs outlined above.

In summary the original Momentum to found NCERCC was sector-led, the sector was dismayed at the disbandment of NCERCC, the sector wishes to see this proven model re-instated, but a government lead is required in order to provide the core funding to re-establish the Centre.

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