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ADCS DCS Update 2021 Press Release

ADCS annual DCS update 2021

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, Thursday 29 April, publishes the directors of children’s services (DCS) update 2021 using data from the Association’s membership year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

ADCS has gathered and recorded detailed information about changes in post holders of the statutory director of children’s services (DCS) role since the Association was established in 2007. We also record the number of directors who hold both statutory roles of DCS and director of adult social services (DASS), referred to as ‘twin hat’ arrangements. The report offers some year-on-year comparisons, several of which date back to 2007, in order to highlight trends and patterns of change.

Charlotte Ramsden, ADCS President, said:

“Consistent and stable leadership is important for any organisation and this is especially true in our world of children’s services. The data in this report is very encouraging as the total number of DCS changes over the past year is significantly lower compared to previous years. During 2020/21, there were a total of 39 changes in DCS post holders across 34 LAs, meaning that 77% of LAs did not experience a change in their DCS across the 12-month period. Due to the statutory nature of the role, there must always be a serving DCS in post meaning that many of these changes took place due to interim arrangements pending a permanent appointment.

“What is also encouraging is the high level of experience amongst our senior leadership teams. The average tenure of a DCS in the same local authority is 30 months, an increase from last year. Further, the average length of time served as a DCS when factoring in the overall time spent in multiple local authorities is now beyond 4 years. It is certainly welcome to see that all of the changes across the reporting period were filled by experienced local government leaders, including DCSs moving from one local authority to another, returning to the DCS role, or fulfilling an interim appointment and succession from assistant director level. This shows how highly experience is valued and that expertise is not being lost from the sector.

“It is vital that we are able to bring through new leaders for the future and succession planning is central to this. Over the past year there were 12 DCS new permanent appointments, all of whom were from assistant director/second tier level from either the same LA or from another LA. Encouraging new leaders to come forward and supporting their development is key and I am delighted to see succession planning in action working so well.

“Over recent years we have seen a continuing trend of fewer LAs combining their children and adult services directorate and this has been reflected in our membership data. As at 31 March, there were 26 ‘twin hat’ directors, the lowest number since 2010. Little can be deduced from this and it is up to councils to decide how they design local systems for the benefit of communities. As local needs change as will roles, however, there must be a clear and ultimate line of accountability for children’s outcomes in a local area.

“ADCS continues to collect and report on ethnicity data so that we can bring greater visibility to diversity and representation in the DCS community. There are unfortunately not enough black and minority ethnic directors across the country. The DCS role is one of the best in local government and although ethnicity, gender or disability is irrelevant to a person’s capability to do the job, it is important that our workforce reflect our local communities.”


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.

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