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President’s Speech NCASC 2019 - Press Release

ADCS President’s address at the National Children and Adult Services Conference 2019

Addressing delegates at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth Rachel Dickinson, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), today said:

On the Children Acts 1989 and 2004

“The potent combination of austerity; rising demand; fewer resources and a government whose attention for almost four years has been largely focussed elsewhere, endangers the ambitious intentions of the Acts. There is still much to do if we are to become a country that works for all children. In this context, the system leadership role of the DCS to ensure a relentless focus on the lived experiences of children and to speak loudly for change, has never been more important.”

On funding

“We are still waiting for a long-term funding settlement. I don’t just mean a three or even a five-year comprehensive spending review. I’m talking about the need to invest substantially and bravely in children’s services – investment that transcends parliamentary cycles and general election rhetoric. We must move away from the current piecemeal approach to funding. Small, ad hoc, short-term pots of funding from central government in response to single issues, made available for some but not all local areas, are particularly unhelpful.”

On demand pressures

“Increasing pressures in children’s and adult social care need to be funded properly, but not at the expense of other key local government services that help create prosperous, independent and resilient communities. These wellbeing and Place-based services that improve the lives of local people, helping them to live a good life, as well as prevent demand growing exponentially in our social care services…Local authorities can, and do, join these services up locally to deliver improved outcomes for communities, but we need the right, long-term resources to continue doing this.”

On the education system

“I strongly believe that the government’s education reforms have completely lost sight of inclusion. Let’s not forget that state-funded schools are community assets. The new school inspection framework is shining a light on the use of formal and informal exclusions and will hopefully help to turn the tide on rising exclusions…but I think it’s time to review head teachers’ powers to exclude pupils unchecked.”

On the role of private equity in care placements

“…the entry of private equity into the provision of fostering and residential care placements is a relatively recent development and a source of considerable worry for ADCS members. The level of profit being generated by some companies from the care of vulnerable children…is difficult to reconcile as austerity continues to bite in local government. However, the level of risk now apparent in the system is my overriding concern.”

On unregulated settings

“The use of unregulated and of unregistered placement settings is rising because of the lack of placement capacity in registered and regulated provision. There has been a clear lack of appetite amongst successive governments to lead a joined-up response to help local authorities collectively to provide and commission flexible responses that can meet the most complex adolescent need. Many councils are investing in the recruitment and retention of in-house foster carers. This is a big task that government could help with – but, as the age profile of our children in care population changes, we will need different kinds of placements.”

On care leavers

“…over 100 councils in England already exempt their care leavers from paying council tax until age 25. If your council has not yet made the decision can I urge you as good corporate parents to give it some serious thought as you set your budgets locally. If every council in England was to do this, then care leavers who live out of borough, or even out of region, would not be disadvantaged by their postcode.”

On the new ADCS health position paper

“Tomorrow, ADCS will launch a position paper on children’s health and wellbeing. That paper describes children’s health as being poorly served, there are some shocking failures to deliver timely health care, linked to both demand (poverty and the stresses of modern life) and service failure…the health service is simply not doing well enough for children.”



• The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) Ltd is the professional leadership association for Directors of Children’s Services and their senior management teams in England.

• The full speech can be found here

• The ADCS Elective Home Education 2019 survey mentioned in the speech can be found here

‘A health care system that works for all children’, the new ADCS position paper mentioned in the speech, will be published on on Thursday 21 November.

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