Ever since it was founded in 1942, Children England (or NCVCCO as it was called until 2008) has been the infrastructure body created, and democratically governed, by charities working with children and families.  

Its trustee board has announced that the charity will close later this year, saying that the financial challenges of sustaining the charity in the current context have become impossible to juggle any longer. The priority in its remaining months will be on sharing its legacy after 81 years as the collective voice of, and support for, the children’s charity sector.

Children England began its life during World War II as the collective of charity children’s homes, with the objective of influencing government in its plans for the welfare state, and the creation of the Children Act 1948. As the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations (NCVCCO) this collaborative tradition continued over many decades, with experts from the charity being seconded into the Whitehall teams leading on both the Children Act 1989, and Children Act 2004, to ensure that the expertise and vital role of the voluntary sector in children’s services were integral in those landmark legal reforms for children, and their subsequent implementation in practice.

Since 2013, when government funding for the organisation came to an end, Children England has led a decade of imaginative policy development, informed commentary on the provision of children’s services, and vocal campaigning for children and for charities. Key successes have included its work in highlighting how the operation of markets and commissioning have impacted on services for children, and spearheading the successful ‘Keep Profit Out of Child Protection’ campaign in May 2014, which overturned government plans to enable the outsourcing of child protection functions to the private sector. Most recently, Children England created the ChildFair State Inquiry, a research and policy development programme led and conducted by young people, whose “Vision for a ChildFair State” report launched in May 2023. 

Kathy Evans, Children England’s CEO, said:

“No CEO wants to close the organisation they love and feel responsible for, but I am proud of the decisiveness of our Board in knowing when it’s time to call it a day. In the extraordinarily difficult economic circumstances the whole nation is experiencing we know that many other charities, businesses and public services are facing similar mathematical impossibilities in trying to find ways to juggle the bills, the income and the security that all employers and employees need, just to stay afloat. 

"We know we aren’t the first, nor likely to be the last, purposeful organisation that has had to grasp the necessity of closing this year, despite still believing passionately in the value and importance of what they do. Our profound concern about what’s happening to all charities and public services in this pernicious economic context will outlast our ability to continue campaigning about them.

"Seeing the government claim that it had to pay off the bill for bailing out the banking crisis of 2008 at the expense of services and benefits for children, young people and families has been alarming. Mainly because it was never true: every savage cut to councils, every single Whitehall spending decision over the last decade, has been a political choice not an economic necessity. Throughout the last decade Children England has been loudly calling out the avoidable impacts of austerity on children, families, and the services and support they should still be entitled to expect. We’ve persistently offered the kind of systemic solutions and creative policy reforms that could stem and reverse the devastating impact of state disinvestment in our children and their futures. But governments and politicians still aren’t listening. 

"In their inspiring work launched earlier this year our young leaders of the ChildFair State Inquiry have been our great source of inspiration and hope for the future, laying out a positive and practical agenda for restoring the sense of collective responsibility we should have towards every child, indeed every person of any age, in this society. As human beings we all need other people, and children need all of us. No child is unaffordable to our economy, the very idea is perverse. In fact this country cannot afford the damage we are doing to our children, and to all of our futures, with such relentless cuts and steep disinvestment in their childhoods.

"As we close down our charity we hope that the ChildFair State young leaders’ powerful values and ideas can spread far and wide, like sycamore seeds on the autumn winds, coming to life in reality long after Children England is gone.” 

David Holmes CBE, Children England’s Chair said: 

“The Board of Trustees have taken the difficult decision to close Children England while we are still in a position to preserve its very substantial legacy. Key aspects of its work such as its funded 4in10 project and the compelling vision and proposals that its Young Leaders recently set out for a ChildFair State will be found caring new homes within our sector. We will also do all we can to gather, share and celebrate the collective wisdom of this small but brilliant organisation before we finally close in a few months’ time. Children England may be closing but the collective commitment to the children’s charity sector of Kathy Evans its fantastic CEO, its staff, its Board of Trustees, its members and its many supporters will live on far into the future.”  

Mark Lee, CEO of children’s charity, The Together Trust, a longstanding member and trustee of Children England, said: 

I have been involved with Children England for nearly 20 years. Children England has been a passionate and powerful advocate for the rights and needs of children to be at the centre of policy and political thinking. Children England has led campaigns, researched issues and most importantly listened to children and young people to develop credible options and solutions. Anyone with an interest in services for children, the legislation and policy designed to support them will deeply regret the closure of Children England - I feel very sad indeed that this is happening”.