Barnardo’s has lost the contract to run five children’s centres in Worcestershire.
Although Barnardo’s put in a bid to continue running the centres in the Malvern and Bromsgrove areas, Worcestershire County Council has given the contract to Action for Children.
The council says that existing staff will be transferred across to the new provider and that families will still be able to access the same services.
Action for Children is also assuring families that there will be a smooth transition.
But there are concerns that the switchover will cause disruption for local families who value the Barnardo’s service.
Penelope Morgan, a Malvern county councillor, said she has heard from several people worried about the impact on the service offered by the town’s Sunshine and Evergreen children’s centres which both moved into their own premises under Barnardo’s stewardship.
“There is no suggestion that the new provider will do anything other than an excellent job, but it is rather sad because Barnardo’s has worked very hard to build up relationships with local families,” she said.
“In an ideal world I have said that Barnardo’s should have carried on with the contracts.”
The switchover will take place at the start of April.
Nicola Green, assistant director at Barnardo’s Midlands, said the charity was proud of its achievements in establishing and developing the centres. It is important to stress that the service is not closing – it will just be managed by another provider. We are very proud of the caring and enthusiastic team of staff and volunteers who together with the hard work of parents and carers have made a lasting difference to the community.”
A county council spokesman said there had been a competitive tendering process.
“The tender submissions were evaluated against specific criteria which focused on the delivery of services to young children and their families in accordance with current government legislations,” he said.
As well as the two Malvern centres, Action for Children is taking over the Pear Tree and Sunny Fields centres in Bromsgrove and the Teme Valley centre in Clifton-upon-Teme.
Action for Children’s Jan Stoll said: “We are looking forward to working in Malvern and Bromsgrove to continue delivering services from the children’s centres which effectively meet the needs of families.”