Longfield, chief executive of 4Children for 20 years, has been recommended by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan following a selection process run by the Department for Education and Cabinet Office.
She will be formerly offered the position if the education select committee backs her candidacy – it is set to hold a pre-appointment hearing with Longfield on 11 November when it can question her about her plans.
In a statement released last night, Longfield said: “I am delighted to have been selected as the preferred candidate for the post of children’s commissioner for England.
“It is a crucial role with the potential to make a huge impact for some of the most vulnerable children in England.”
The DfE said Longfield was chosen from a shortlist of candidates who were selected for interview with ministers. It said the process is being overseen by the Office of the Commission for Public Appointments.
If formerly approved, Longfield will take up post on 1 March 2015, when outgoing commissioner Maggie Atkinson’s five-year term ends.
She will become the third children’s commissioner for England, following Atkinson and Sir Al Aynsley Green, who held the post between 2005 and 2010.
Atkinson, a former president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, was appointed by former children’s secretary Ed Balls, despite her candidacy not being backed by the then children, school and family select committee, because of concerns it had about her commitment to the independence of the role.
Longfield was appointed chief executive of the Kids Club Network in 1994 and oversaw its rebranding into 4Children in 2004.
In 2001, she was seconded for a year to the Prime Minister’s strategy unit as a policy adviser. She graduated from the University of Newcastle in 1981 with a history degree, and her first job was as a researcher for Save the Children.
She was made an Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2000.