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Children England is a charity created, governed and inspired by other charities. Our mission is to change the world for England’s children by harnessing the energy, ingenuity and expertise of the voluntary organisations that work on their behalf.

We are proud of our history and the positive role that charities and voluntary groups have played in shaping our society and championing the importance of children within it. We are equally passionate about supporting charities and voluntary groups to survive, to thrive and to continue their vital work in the future.

Our members share our vision and commitment to create a society where all children and young people are valued, protected and listened to, their rights are realised and their families are supported.

We know this vision is shared by many others beyond the voluntary sector and we will collaborate with all those who can support and help us to achieve real change for children.

We don’t have to be big, we just have to be brilliant!

Children England is a small charity with big ambitions for change that we know can only be achieved by persuasion, by generating new ideas, building common cause and finding creative ways to collaborate with others.

We value our financial independence from government and are committed to remaining independently funded in future. Independence enables our work priorities to be determined by our members, enables us to speak to all audiences and decision-makers without fear or favour, and helps us in our aim to offer bold, challenging and imaginative sector leadership.

We know that no charity has a right to exist in perpetuity. We do not aim to grow for growth’s sake, nor to chase funding wherever it can be found. We make a firm commitment to our members not to compete with them for funds that sustain their direct practice with children and families. We are committed to continue our work with passion and creativity for as long as our members and funders see real value in what we do.

We will amplify sector consensus where it exists, and lead debate where it doesn’t

We are not here to pretend that all charities are the same. We believe our sector’s great diversity is its strength. We believe our society, democracy and collective learning all benefit from open debate that seeks out and listens to different views and perspectives.

We will actively encourage and contribute to debate amongst our membership and beyond. Where we find conflict or complexity we will not hide it, but seek to find a way through it for the benefit of children. Where we find consensus we will amplify it, and we will always support and encourage the full breadth of voices and campaigns from all our members.


Our two strategic goals to 2020 are only made more important by the impacts of austerity on the lives of children, young people and families, and the parallel threats to the financial sustainability of charities and voluntary groups right across the country.

GOAL 1: Keeping Children at Heart in Society

England’s Children

Our members’ manifesto gives us a clear, comprehensive and ambitious mandate of their top collective policy priorities for children and families. It frames and informs all our work, and we will review and refresh the mandate with members during the course of this parliament, ready for the next general election.

The ChildFair State Inquiry

Children England is leading an inquiry into what the welfare state would look like if it recognised and supported all children's need for home, safety, love, health and purpose (a paraphrasing of Maslow's five needs). It involves both gathering evidence from professional practice and policy and supporting young people to investigate what their peers want from a reformed, child-centred welfare state. We aim to create a network of young social change champions with their own blue print for the welfare state that we can work with decision-makers to put on the nation’s agenda.

In Children We Trust

Children England, with support from Lankelly Chase Foundation and a range of sector partners, is exploring the potential to create a new form of ‘public ownership’ and local trusts for children and young people, through which children can own and democratically control assets and resources for meeting their needs.

4in10: London’s child poverty campaign

Supported by Trust for London and City Bridge Trust, the 4 in 10 Campaign is working hard to make child poverty a top priority for all parties and candidates in London’s 2016 elections and beyond, and to support practical learning and sharing of ideas to tackle child poverty across London’s councils and voluntary sector organisations.

Open to All

Our campaign, launched with NCB, aims to encourage all charities to review requirements for university degrees within their recruitment, and to positively adopt the ‘Open to All’ badge and commitment to value all talents and educational backgrounds in our workforce. Aiming to mimic the Living Wage as a voluntary standard for employers, we may seek to fund and develop Open to All as a discrete initiative.

Listen to my Voice (now completed)

Ongoing partnership work with Stoke council, to develop, support and share best practice in putting children and young people’s views at the heart of day-to-day practice and management, for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Beneath the Threshold (now completed)

Beginning with a small piece of research under our Engage London programme, we aim to undertake and expand our research, analysis and recommendations about the experiences of children, young people and voluntary organisations in terms of safeguarding needs and risks ‘beneath the thresholds’ for child protection and mental health referrals.


GOAL 2: Creating a Sustainable Voluntary Sector Economy

Declaration of Interdependence

The Declaration of Interdependence that we developed with the TUC and many of our members, remains an influential and valued charter for encouraging real change in local relationships, service commissioning and partnerships between statutory and voluntary organisations. We will continue to work with the TUC on promoting implementation, and through our regional member engagements, to consider its role in devolutionary arrangements.

Researching the costs of commissioning and competition

Following on from our Perfect Storms report, we are keen to explore and tell the story of the ‘invisible’ costs, time and effort that are spent on the processes of competitive tendering and contracting, as well as the contract terms and conditions that can undermine a charity’s duty to its beneficiaries. We will continue to listen to our members, through meetings and through our Commissioning Activists member network, to understand their experience of commissioning and inform our advocacy in this area. We also aim to compare the picture we find with comparable assessment of large and small grants.

Supporting a sustainable civil society for children in London (now completed)

Our Engage London partnership (with PYL and REF) delivered its last year’s programme of support, training and resources to sustain the VCSE sector working with CYP in London, and completed in March 2017. However, we have been awarded bridge funding from City Bridge Trust to play a role in continuing work and evolution of London’s civil society infrastructure.

Influencing Care Commissioning Reforms

Following through Children England’s long history of supporting charities who provide care for looked after children, and our work to analyse and propose changes to current the care commissioning practices, we will continue to work in partnership with the Independent Children’s Homes Association to influence emerging thinking from the Residential Care review and beyond, including through our ‘Rethinking Care Commissioning’ web area, encouraging and publishing radical sector views and ideas for improvement.

Grants for Good campaigning

Together with our campaign partners (DSC, CFG, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales) we will energetically promote the benefits and creativity for local commissioners in resurrecting the use of small grants to support community groups and voluntary services. We aim to reverse the rapid decline in local grant-giving over the last 15 years.

Developing trusted funding relationships

In partnership with Newcastle University Business School we will continue to contribute challenging thought leadership about changing the ‘public service market’ paradigm, and more practically, to support their work to develop and trial better ways of creating funding relationships for voluntary and public services that are trusted, accountable and focus attention on the quality and value of practice relationships with service-users.