2nd March 2015

New Children’s Commissioner for England hits the ground running

Anne Longfield, OBE, started as the new Children’s Commissioner for England today (Monday 2 March). She identified her immediate priorities as:

  • working with children to make sure their interests are at the forefront of decision making nationally and locally
  • securing real improvements for the most vulnerable children in the country’s care system
  • making sure adults and professionals understand and act on, the signs displayed by children who are abused or neglected
  • securing real commitments from all the major political parties to make children a key priority as they go into the election in May, including to renew their commitments to helping the poorest, most disadvantaged children.

As Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield will be making sure that politicians and policymakers take into account the views and interests of England’s 12 million children and young people. She is tasked in law with promoting and protecting their rights, with a particular focus on children who are in care, who receive social care services, or who live away from home for other reasons.

Anne is an expert in children and family policy and services and has led ground-breaking campaigns and research in this area, including high profile inquires and Commissions which have shaped Government approaches to children and families. She has been Chief Executive of the charity 4Children for 20 years, growing it to run a national network of nearly 100 Sure Start Children’s Centres. She is a passionate champion of early intervention and received an OBE in recognition of her contribution in the millennium honours. She gained the Freedom of the City of London in 2013 for services to children in the capital.

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England said:

“It is a privilege to have been appointed to work on behalf of England’s children, and I am determined to use my six years to make a real difference.

I will spend my six-year term as Children’s Commissioner stretching every sinew to improve the lives of children – listening to what children and young people tell me and bringing their concerns to the table.

The majority of children are flourishing and are destined to continue to do so. But there are still far too many who face severe disadvantages and sadly abuse or neglect, who are discriminated against for some reason or who simply who do not get a fair start in life because their parents or carers cannot afford to provide them with one. I will work on their behalf, championing their rights throughout the country.

In 6 years time I would like the country to feel proud of the changes it has made to improve the lives of children. ”

Notes to editors

The Children’s Commissioner promotes and protects children’s rights in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and, as appropriate, other human rights legislation and conventions.

She and her team at the Office of the Children’s Commissioner do this by listening to what children and young people say about things that affect them and encouraging adults making decisions to take their views and interests into account.

The Children’s Commissioner and her team publish evidence, including that which is collected directly from children and young people, bringing matters that affect their rights to the attention of Parliament, the media, children and young people themselves, and society at large. They also provide advice on children’s rights to policy-makers, practitioners and others.

Anne Longfield, OBE is the third Children’s Commissioner for England, a public post established by the Children Act 2004. The Act makes the Commissioner and her team responsible for working on behalf of all children in England and in particular, those whose voices are least likely to be heard. It says she must speak for wider groups of children on the issues that are not-devolved to regional Governments. These include immigration, for the whole of the UK, and youth justice, for England and Wales. The Children and Families Act 2014 changed the Children’s Commissioner’s remit and role. It provided the legal mandate for the Commissioner and those who work in support of her remit at the Office of the Children’s Commissioner to promote and protect children’s rights. In particular, she is expected to focus on the rights of children within the new section 8A of the Children Act 2004, or other groups of children whom we consider are at particular risk of having their rights infringed. This includes those who are in or leaving care or living away from home, and those receiving social care services. The Bill also allows the Commissioner to provide advice and assistance to and to represent these children.

In 2014/15 the Office of the Children’s Commissioner was awarded a budget of £2.9 million for its work.