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ADCS DCS update 2023

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, 28 April, publishes the directors of children’s services (DCS) update 2023 using data from the Association’s membership year 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.

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, referred to in this report as ‘twin hat’. The report offers some year-on-year comparisons, several of which date back to 2007, to highlight trends over time and patterns of change.

John Pearce, ADCS President, said:

“Stability and consistency in children’s services leadership is key to delivering high quality services to children and their families locally. During 2022/23, there were a total of 50 changes in DCS-postholder, across 42 local authorities which means around three quarters (110) of local authorities have not experienced a change in the DCS across the reporting period. Due to the statutory nature of the role, there must always be a serving DCS in post, and a number of changes took place due to brief interim arrangements prior to substantive appointments.

“Succession planning for the next generation of DCS’ is ever more important in our complex world of children’s services. We need to encourage more aspiring directors into the DCS role which is why all local authorities are looking at how we spot, develop and nurture the talent of future leaders. A total of 21 new permanent appointments took place in 2022/23, and most (19) of those appointed were assistant director/second tier level stepping up to the role. Similarly, the majority of interim appointments were filled, in the main, by former substantive DCSs or assistant director/second tier level officers. I am pleased to see experience remaining in the sector. The high level of experience is further highlighted by the average length of time served as a DCS, when factoring in the overall time spent in multiple local authorities, which is more than four years. Having senior leaders with the experience and knowledge to lead what could be wide ranging systems change will be important for children and families.

“The data shows a continued downward trend of local authorities with ‘twin hat’ directors, which is the lowest number since 2010. One reason why more local authorities may have moved away from these combined arrangements than adopted them in the past year could be because of the complex challenges and demands facing both local authority children’s services and adult services. However, it is for local authorities to design their local systems to best meet the needs of communities. The key thing remains there must be a clear and ultimate line of accountability for children’s outcomes in a local area.

“In 2022, for the first time, we collected broader protected characteristics from our members to better understand the current DCS cohort. While a person’s age, religion, sexuality, or any disability, are irrelevant to their ability to do the job well, we believe it is important to know our own membership and the diversity of the sector so that we can have the right discussions about barriers, succession planning and workforce development, both at the national level and in local government children’s services. The data shows there is a huge amount still to do on improving diversity in the DCS community, in particular ethnic diversity. This is something all local authorities are focussed on, as is the Association. It is important that our sector leaders are representative of the communities they serve, and that we fully maximise the potential within our sector. We are in the process of setting up a working group which will explore what ADCS can do to encourage and increase greater diversity across the Association, along with areas of focus that sit outside of the remit of ADCS, where we will look to use our influence with partners to help move the agenda forward.”

ENDS


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