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Fall in Director of Childrens Services new appointments

There were just 17 new appointments of director of childrens services in 2018-2019, a report by the Association of Directors of Childrens Services has found.

The 17 new DCS appointments was the second lowest number within a reporting year since ADCS was established in 2007. The fewest number of new DCS appointments was two years ago in 2016-17 when there were 16 new DCS appointments.

Rachel Dickinson, ADCS President, said: "“In 2018/19, there were 17 new permanent DCS appointments, of which 13 were assistant director/second tier level officers. The director of childrens services role is challenging but it’s the best job in the world. There is always a need to encourage more aspiring leaders to the role. We urge government to move at pace to invest in systems leadership development programmes for future generations of DCSs as well as those currently in the role."

During 2018/19 there were 51 changes in director of childrens services post-holder – the total number of changes includes every change, inclusive of brief interim periods prior to substantive appointment. The changes have taken place across 40 LAs – this means that almost 75% of LAs (112) have not experienced a change in the DCS post-holder across the reporting period.

Of the 51 changes there were:

- 17 new DCS appointments

- 20 interim appointments

- 11 DCSs have moved post from one local authority to another

- 1 new multi-local authority arrangement established

- 2 former DCSs returning to the statutory DCS role.

The total of 51 changes is a significant drop compared to the previous period as there were 65 changes in total for 2017/18. The average number of total changes in DCS post-holder per year is currently 47.7.

Rachel Dickinson, ADCS President, said: “Stability in leadership is integral to the delivery of high quality children’s services. Data from our membership year 2018/19 shows there were a total of 51 changes in DCS postholders across 40 local authorities, a significant drop from the year before. It is too soon to tell whether this will form a future trend, but it means that nearly three quarters of councils experienced no change in DCS during the 12 month period.

"Many of the changes were short-term interim arrangements pending permanent appointments and have been filled by former DCSs or assistant directors/second tier officers. In addition to less overall change in the reporting period, the average tenure of a DCS in the same local authority has increased from 26 months in 2017/18 to 29 months in 2018/19, and for the first time we have calculated the average length of time served as a DCS when factoring in cumulative time spent in multiple local authorities, is approximately 4 years. Moreover, many DCSs have been the DCS in a number of local authorities – further evidence of experience and expertise remaining in the sector," she added.

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

There are currently 13 interim post holders. 11 are in a DCS only post and two are in a ‘twin hat’ post. Six of the current interim directors have previously been a DCS in another local authority.

There were 40 ‘twin hat’ directors at 31 March 2019 – the lowest since 2012. There are also a number of local authorities where the director has overall responsibility for children and adult services, but whilst holding the statutory duty for children’s services, they do not also hold the statutory duty for adult services. For the purposes of this report these arrangements are not considered ‘twin hat’.

Since ADCS was established in 2007, 108 of the current 152 local authorities have at some point had a ‘twin hat’ director, meaning 44 local authorities have never combined the DCS and DASS role. The picture continues to change as local authorities combine and disaggregate services. During the past 12 months, 10 LAs have disaggregated services and four local authorities have combined services, the report reveals.

The average duration of a DCS in post in the same LA (based on all interim and permanent appointments from 2007 to 31 March 2019) is 29 months – across all permanent appointments it is 37 months and for all interim appointments it is 7 months. The average tenure of current post-holders is 30 months.

Thirty nine per cent of the current post holders have been DCS in more than one local authority in either permanent, interim or multi-LA arrangements (largely interim), showing that experience is valued and that expertise is not being lost from the sector.
As of 31 March 2019 there were 84 LAs with female directors and 68 LAs with male directors.

Rachel Dickinson said: “It is something to be proud of that for nearly a decade we have had a similar number of male and female DCSs, however, there are currently not nearly enough black and minority ethnic directors across the country. ADCS is clear that those who have the ambition and capability to become leaders should have the opportunity to progress and we will be reporting on ethnicity starting from next year in order to bring greater visibility to this area. In addition to continuing to press government for investment in leadership development in general, ADCS will also press for a greater focus on training and support to develop the future black and minority ethnic leaders of tomorrow.”

The report also revealed that there are a number of Alternative Delivery Models (ADMs) currently providing aspects of children’s services on behalf of LAs:

- 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.

- Achieving for Children also provides services on behalf of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

- Together for Children provides children’s services on behalf of Sunderland City Council
Brighter Futures for Children provides children’s services on behalf of Reading Council

- Children First Northamptonshire provides children’s services on behalf of Northamptonshire County Council.

Trust arrangements are in place in Birmingham, Doncaster, Sandwell and Slough.


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