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The Upcoming Conference

I have been preoccupied this week with final preparations for next week’s ADCS Annual Conference. So I must write about that!

I always knew there was a lot of work in organising a conference of this scale but it was not until I became more closely involved in the detail that I realised the full extent of what is involved.

Just organising an interesting programme and securing all the speakers and facilitators is quite a task. The whole of the ADCS support team pitch in - it really is a collaborative effort.

We run our conference in two parts. The first part is closed and only for Directors for Children Services.

This is a space where directors come together and debate the most pressing issues of the day. We thrash out what our approach should be as we go forward. It’s an opportunity to dig deeper and try and capture and then synthesise the diverse views of our member directors.

This time we are looking at the whole system leadership of local safeguarding with a view to finalising our advice about how current ways of working can be improved. I know the government is interested in hearing our thoughts on this area of work and our views will feed into the Ministerial Task Force on child protection being chaired by the Secretary of State Nicky Morgan.

We will also focus on the changing relationship between councils and citizens in the context of service pressures and financial constraints.

As well as this we are doing some practical work to capture the knowledge and experience in our regions and the excellent work taking place collaboratively at that level. This remains a valuable source we have not yet fully utilised. We want to take a closer look at how we can make best use of the huge wealth of experience and skills available through our regional arrangements. This will also help us to maximise the additional capacity we have created in the ADCS support team to strengthen connections with and between all regions.

For the first time ever we will be engaging our broader membership in one of the DCS sessions with a debate on the educational attainment of looked after children. This session will be led by the ADCS Board member Stuart Carlton who will inform our policy development on this important area of work.

The open part of the conference will start Thursday afternoon and continue into Friday. We have a fantastic range of speakers. Sir Martin Narey will give what I’m sure will be a lively and challenging address which I am hoping will touch on topical issues such as adoption and the role of social workers.

Sir Peter Fahy (Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and National Policing Lead for Prevent) will explore alongside others the lines between child protection and community safety and ideology and harm.

In addition to this we will have a fantastic range of workshops on both Thursday and Friday including transforming children’s mental health. Attendees will discuss how some local areas have already transformed services to improve access, experiences and outcomes for children with emotional health needs.

I’m also looking forward to hearing from many others, including Jon Rouse, Director General, Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships who will talk about improving child health and a panel talking about Multi-Agency Inspection led byHMIC Dru Sharpling CBE, David Behan Care Quality Commission, Kath O’Dwyer Ofsted and Alan MacDonald HM Inspectorate of Probation.

Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Children and Families, will talk on Friday morning.

And we are experimenting with some new approaches. There is an Innovation Fund speed dating session, a cartoonist at the conference, we will be storyifing via social media, and some ‘talking heads’ filming taking place to capture the opinions of conference delegates. All of which will go on our newly designed website due to launch in the autumn.

It is my privilege to address the conference at the beginning of the open sessions and also to summarise the conference at the end.

More about that later after the conference. For now, I must go and finalise the speech that I’ll be making next week.


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