4Children closes with the loss of 85 jobs

31 Aug 2016 News

Children’s charity 4Children, announced its closure yesterday with the loss of 85 jobs and four services, but most of its work is being transferred to Action for Children or local authorities.

A statement by the charity said the closure comes as a result of changes to its contract portfolio and “broader fundraising pressures”.

More than half of the charity’s existing services – 62 per cent - will be transferred to Action for Children, while a further 35 per cent of services will transfer to local authority control or alternative local providers. Just 3 per cent of services face closure, the charity said.

At the time of closure the charity employed 1,023 people. 727 will be transferred to Action for Children and 211 local authority or other providers.

4Children's latest accounts for the year ending 31 March 2015 show it had an income of nearly £30m. The charity's income has increased every year since 2011 when it was just under £13m.

Imelda Redmond CBE, chief executive of 4Children, said the decision was made in the long-term interest of children and families.

“Recent changes in our contract portfolio and broader funding pressures have led trustees to pursue this managed transfer, which will strengthen the position of frontline services to withstand these pressures while continuing to deliver high quality support,” she said.

“We are pleased to be joining forces with Action for Children whose values, culture and organisational structure are an ideal fit for our own. This will help to create a smooth transition for staff and minimise any disruption to the children and families we support.”

'Increasingly challenging'

Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said the operating environment for charities was “increasingly challenging".

“Greater collaboration within the sector is something many charities are investigating and this announcement supports that approach. I look forward to welcoming 4Children families and the members of staff who support them across the UK.”

In response to the closure, Children England said it marked the “loss of a significant nationally-recognised charity name” and should serve as “both a shock and warning sign” to other children’s charities.

“Our first thoughts are with the many skilled and dedicated people who are today facing redundancy,” the statement said. “It is a great relief to know that redundancies have been minimised and most of 4Children’s direct practice will be continued thanks to collaboration with Action for Children and others.

“4Children was operating in a highly competitive public sector marketplace and viewed by many smaller organisations in the sector as benefitting significantly from their scale and profile. Yet they have proved unable to keep going on their own. The serious financial fragility of the children’s services ‘marketplace’ is a very real and urgent problem, for large and small organisations alike.”

'Unsettling and hurtful'

Comments posted on the charity's website expressed concern about the lack of warning for staff, parents and children that services due to close.

Nursery user Kerry Peel said this morning: “You haven't given my girls a chance to say goodbye, they will never understand why they cannot return to their nursery a place they felt so happy. In fact I cannot think of a more disruptive, unsettling and hurtful way you could have done this.

“4children you are words I cannot use, I personally would recommend you remove all the phrases where you claim to care for children because plainly you do not! Your staff deserve more and you should have been honest about the situation and given the nursery time to plan and support each other, the parents and the children.”

Another service user, Aysin Cuma, said: “Discussing the way you have given us one days notice - my child has attended little rays for 2.5 years, 4 days a week and will now not get the chance to say bye to the staff that have played a major part in his life!”

A further parent of a nursery attendee, Kate Mansfield, said: “To be told at midday that the nursery would no longer be operational as of the end of the day is a disgraceful way to operate. Not only will this be hugely disruptive and upsetting for all the children and families who attended the nursery, but also for the staff who were told today that their jobs would be ending today.

“I appreciate that in the current climate securing funding is a challenge, but with a complete lack of any kind of notice or support offered to staff or families I cannot see that 'best possible services for children and families' are being maintained.”

4Children has responded to say that it is "still working hard to find alternative management for these settings and are very sorry for the disruption and concern being caused in the meantime".

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