The Children's Society
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The Children's Society, formerly The Church of England Central Society for Providing Homes for Waifs and Strays and The Church of England Children's Society is a United Kingdom national children's charity (registered No. 221124) allied to the Church of England.
The charity's two governing objectives are to:
- directly improve the lives of children and young people for whom it provides services
- create a positive shift in social attitudes to improve the situation facing all children and young people.
The Children's Society was founded in the late nineteenth century by Edward Rudolf, a Sunday School teacher and civil servant in South London. Rudolf led a deputation to Archibald Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury to put forward a plan for the establishment of Church of England children's homes as an alternative to the large workhouses and orphanages common at that time. In 1881, a new organisation was registered as the Church of England Central Society for Providing Homes for Waifs and Strays. It kept this name until 1946, when the title was changed to the Church of England Children's Society; and since the 1980s it has been known as The Children's Society.
The first home was opened in Dulwich in 1882. Its success, together with a growing awareness of the scale of child poverty in England and Wales, led to the rapid development of The Children's Society. By 1919 the charity had 113 homes and cared for 5,000 children.
A main feature of The Children's Society's work was its insistence that children should not become long-term residents in homes, but boarded out, fostered or adopted. By the late 1960s The Children's Society had become one of the largest adoption agencies in the country.
In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, in response to the significant social changes of these years, The Children's Society moved away from centralised care, fostering and adoption work and focused more on preventative work designed to support children and young people within their own families and communities. During the 1970s and 1980s The Children's Society introduced family centres throughout the country offering services such as advice centres, play groups, youth clubs and short term accommodation for young, single
The charity's direct practice now focuses on vulnerable children and young people aged 10 to 18 - including children who have been sexually exploited, children in care and young refugees. Its policy and campaigning work is informed by its direct practice, and by its extensive research on children's well-being, child poverty and adolescent neglect.
The Children's Society was rebranded in 2014 by London-based design practice SomeOne from a logo depicting a purple figure reaching for a star to the current black and white identity. The new look reflects the charity's belief of confronting 'hard truths'.
In 2017, The Children’s Society launched a new strategy aimed at disrupting the cycles of disadvantage that prevent young people from thriving by 2030; an ambition that directly supports the vision and mission. The charity has chosen to concentrate on young people aged 10–18 with many problems in their lives (or multiple disadvantage). The strategy focuses on using innovation to scale up impact through technology and learning, partnerships to leverage resource, and continuous improvement by becoming an agile and efficient organisation.
As well as supporting change at an individual level through its direct programmes of work, The Children's Society aims to effect systemic change by influencing legislation and government practice, and to effect a positive shift in public attitudes towards children and young people.
The Children's Society's strategy explores the complex challenges in young people's lives by focusing on three areas: risk, resilience and resources.
- Risk: The threats and dangers to a young person's safety which could include neglect and abuse, exploitation and violence.
- Resilience: A young person's capacity to respond to adversity at any given time which could include mental health or trauma.
- Resources: The resources available to meet a young person's needs which could include family support, money or social support.
The charity's income in 2016-17 was £41.6m. This was largely voluntary income donated by supporters (£20.6m). A further £7m was generated by the provision of children's services and £9.9m from charity shops. Investments and other income contributed an additional £4m.
The Good Childhood Inquiry and Report
The Children's Society is known for it research into children's well-being. It seeks to provide the a national picture on how children feel about their lives by asking children themselves. Over the last 12 years the charity has surveyed over 60,000 children as to how they think their lives are going.
In 2006 the charity commissioned an independent inquiry into modern childhood called The Good Childhood Inquiry. The rationale behind the inquiry was that, despite the 2003 Every Child Matters programme, unacceptable levels of disadvantage, poverty and social exclusion remained.
The Inquiry's report, A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age, was published in 2009. It found that 'excessive individualism' is causing a range of problems for children today, including family break-up, teenage unkindness, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and acceptance of income inequality.
The charity went on to develop the Good Childhood Index in 2010 to provide a measure of subjective well-being in relation to 10 aspects of life for children over the age of eight. It surveys children on topics including their appearance, school life and family relationships among others.
Each year The Children's Society produces a report based on the index in partnership with the University of York called The Good Childhood Report.
The 2016 Good Childhood Report showed "a growing gap in happiness between girls and boys, with girls being particularly unhappy with their appearance". The Good Childhood Report 2017 found that fear of crime is the biggest worry for children and young people.
The Children's Society campaigns for changes to laws and policy that affect children.
For example, its work with young people on the streets culminated in a study in 1999, which called for a nationwide network of safe houses to be set up, and for statutory money to pay for them. This work also fed into a campaign to decriminalise prostitution for under-18s. The charity argued that child prostitution should be seen as a child protection issue, and that police and other agencies should protect children and young people from exploitation. In 1995, The Children's Society published the first report to highlight child prostitution in this way and the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Directors of Social Services responded by making a public commitment to review the way they dealt with these children.
- Wales, The Charity Commission for England and. "About Charities". www.charitycommission.gov.uk.
- "Annual reports". 16 November 2010.
- "Charity overview". Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- "The Good Childhood Inquiry". 25 November 2010.
- Richard Layard, Judy Dunn (2009). A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-103943-5.
- Easton, Mark (2 February 2009). "Selfish adults 'damage childhood'". BBC News. Retrieved 16 September 2009.
- "The Good Childhood Index". The Children's Society. 2011-03-08. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
- "Children's Well-being Measures - Office for National Statistics". www.ons.gov.uk. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
- "The Good Childhood Report 2016". The Children's Society. 2016-08-18. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
- Marsh, Sarah (2017-08-30). "Study shows millions of children in the UK are worried about crime". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
- "British children's 'biggest fear is crime'". BBC News. 2017-08-30. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
- Still Running: Children on the Streets in the UK. The Children's Society. 1999. ISBN 978-1-899783-31-1.