Comment: ADCS DCS Update 2019

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, Tuesday 30 April, publishes the directors of children’s services (DCS) update 2019 using data from the Association’s membership year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019.

ADCS has gathered and recorded detailed information about changes in post holders of the statutory 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 in order to highlight trends and patterns of change.

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.

“Since ADCS was established over 70% of local authorities have at some point had ‘twin hat’ arrangements, but in recent years there has been an increasing trend in local authorities disaggregating services, coupled with low numbers of local authorities combining services. The number of twin hatters is at its lowest level since 2012. Few conclusions can be drawn from this, it is likely this picture will continue to change as local authorities explore arrangements to meet changing local needs. Some directors have overall responsibility for both children’s and adult services, but they hold statutory responsibility for children’s services only. Whatever the structure there must be a clear and ultimate line of accountability for children’s outcomes in a local area.

“In 2018/19, there were 17 new permanent DCS appointments, of which 13 were assistant director/second tier level officers. The DCS 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.

“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 full DCS update 2019 can be found here.


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