Kids Company has admitted that it has so far failed to find £1.5m funding for a promised task force or make progress towards its own targets for its 'See the Child. Change the System' campaign.
The Independent Children's Task Force was announced as part of Kids Company’s 'See the Child. Change the System' campaign in June 2014 with Sir Keir Starmer, former director of public prosecutions, as its chair.
The campaign was intended to bring together the children’s sector and parts of government to transform the way that support is provided for children.
But it has not made any progress while the charity attempts to secure £1.5m needed to start work, and former charity partners have said they are no longer involved.
The task force has also failed to take action on a petition signed by more than 28,000 people, and has not recruited any staff to work on delivering its goals.
The advisory board for the task force included the Children’s Commissioner for England, Maggie Atkinson, and representatives from NSPCC, Barnardo’s, local government and academia.
“Historically the children's sector has been very anxious about challenging the government for fear of losing funding. However, led by Camila Batmanghelidjh, they have agreed to collaborate,” the task force’s page on the See the Child website said.
“In fact, the support that 'See the Child. Change the System' has received from the sector has been unprecedented in its level of collaboration and will ultimately help ensure the success of the Independent Children’s Task Force.”
The initial aim of the task force was to create a “virtual service model for vulnerable children” that could be tested in a virtual local authority before being piloted in two local authorities.
“The modelling of the virtual local authority will take 18 months after which the length of the pilot will be determined and separate funding sought for it. We anticipate that the task force will cost £1.5m over this period,” the campaign’s website said.
A year on from the launch of the task force, Civil Society News contacted Kids Company and organisations involved to find out what progress it has had made.
In a statement Kids Company said: “We are in ongoing discussions with a donor who wants to fund the task force and is still working on putting together the estimated £1.5m it will cost to set up and run.
“In the meantime the charity has commissioned a number of reports relating to the delivery of child protection and mental health services for children and young people. These will be used to brief the task force as and when it commences.”
The charity added that no staff have been employed by the task force.
A spokesman for NSPCC said: “The NSPCC agreed to participate in the task force initiated by Kids Company, as would be expected. The NSPCC engages with a wide range of organisations focused on child protection. Unfortunately in this particular case, the Kids Company task force never materialised.”
Since its launch the campaign has not kept up momentum.
Its Twitter account, @SeeTheChild, has not tweeted since December and has just 1,700 followers, compared to 23,000 for the main Kids Company account.
A YouTube video which featured Russell Brand and urged people to sign a petition connected to the campaign, has only been viewed 1,400 times. The YouTube video that launched the campaign has been viewed more than 8,000 times, shared 44 times and inspired eight users to subscribe to the Kids Company YouTube channel.
The petition makes no specific demands and Kids Company has not made clear who, if anyone, it was delivered to.
Kids Company said: “The campaign was made possible through the generosity of external pro bono support from a number of media agencies and individuals.
“We continue to promote the aims of the campaign via Kids Company’s social media channels and the petition continues to bear witness to the public’s concern over child protection.”
The petition has been signed more than 28,000 times.
Updated: The YouTube video which launched the campaign was viewed more than 37,000 times before it was taken down and replaced with updated version which has been seen over 8,000 times.