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Analysis reveals highest turnover recorded in children’s services leaders

The highest turnover in children’s services directors was recorded last year, according to statistics.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services reported that there were 65 changes in director posts between April 2017 and March 2018, the highest number recorded since the Association was established. The average number of changes in post-holders is 47.4.

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said: “During 2017/18 there were a total of 65 changes in DCS post holders – the highest number of annual changes since 2007. Some churn in the system is to be expected and despite the high level of turbulence this year, a great deal of expertise remains in the sector, the majority of the changes have been accounted for by DCSs moving from one local authority to another, former DCSs filling interim positions or returning to the DCS role, and a large amount of succession from assistant director level ensures that leadership positions are held by experienced and knowledgeable individuals.”

The 65 changes have taken place across 57 local authorities, with eight councilsf having each experienced two DCS changes over the 12 month period. This is largely due to short-term interim appointments being made prior to a permanent appointment starting.

The analysis by the ADCs reveals that:

  • There were 27 new DCS appointments, the second highest number within a reporting year (there were 29 new DCS appointments during 2015/16).
  • 25 of the 27were promotions from assistant director level, one director of adults’ services became a director of both children’s and adult services and there was one other appointment.
  • There were 27 interim appointments.
  • Eight directors moved post from one LA to another during 2017/18.
  • Two former DCSs returned to the role.
  • One new multi-local authority arrangement was established.

“The number of interim appointments has remained relatively consistent over recent years,” said the analysis report. “The majority have been short-term appointments pending a permanent appointment being made and have been filled, in the main, by former substantive DCSs or assistant director/second tier level officers.”

There are currently 18 directors in interim posts, 14 are in a DCS only post and four are in a ‘twin hat’ post. Eight of the current interim directors have previously been a DCS in another local authority.

According to the analysis, the average duration of a DCS in post in the same LA is 26 months, based on all interim and permanent appointments from 2007 to 31 March 2017. The average tenure for permanent posts remains at 37 months, which has increased steadily since 2012/13 when the average was 32 months.

There were 76 female directors and 75 male directors on 31 March 2018. Of the 76 authorities with female directors, 22 are ‘twin hatters’. Of the 75 authorities with a male director, 24 are ‘twin hatters’.

The analysis shows that there are a number of Alternative Delivery Models (ADMs) currently providing aspects of children’s services on behalf of local authorities. Achieving for Children provides children’s services on behalf of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames with a single DCS responsible for both and most recently, on behalf of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, who operate with their own DCS.

Together for Children provides children’s services on behalf of Sunderland City Council and the current statutory DCS responsibility is held by the existing DASS on an interim basis. It is expected that Reading will also establish an ADM shortly.

As at 31 March 2018 trust arrangements are in place in Doncaster and Slough and children’s trusts were launched on 1 April 2018 in Birmingham, Northamptonshire and Sandwell. It is thought that Worcestershire will also establish Trust arrangements in the near future.

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said: “Since 2007, around two thirds of local authorities have at some point had a combined children and adult services directorate led by a ‘twin hat’ director. In the past 12 months, 17 local authorities have disaggregated services, six local authorities have combined services in the same period. There appears to be an increasing trend in local authorities to move away from combined arrangements, however, little can be inferred from this – it is up to local authorities how they design their local systems for the benefit of local communities.”

“The importance of strong, effective local leadership in children’s services cannot be understated. The children’s services landscape has changed hugely since we first started collecting this data, the most obvious change being a 50% reduction in funding for local government since 2010, whilst demand has significantly increased. As local systems leaders, budget cuts have meant that local authorities are faced with difficult, sometimes counter-intuitive, decisions to cut the very services we know make a huge difference to children and families and reduce demand for high end statutory services,” he concluded.

Analysis is available here

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