Unified directors body promises to boost councils’ clout with Whitehall

Children’s services heads will have more influence with government with the creation of a new directors’ body next week, an education leader has said.

Chris Waterman, executive director of Confed, said the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) will have more say because government will have a “one-stop shop” when it “wants to talk to councils about the professional development of children’s services.”

The ADCS will be formed out of Confed, the Confederation of Children’s Services Managers the children’s section of the Association of Directors of Social Services and the Association of Directors of Education and Children’s Services.

The new body will be headed in its first year by current ADSS president John Coughlan (pictured) and Confed equivalent John Freeman Waterman will be executive director.

Coughlan said the joint leadership would ensure the new organisation would not be dominated by educationalists, who have taken most children’s services directors posts, and give the strong message that the association represents both social care and education equally.

Coughlan said the ADCS’s initial priorities included bringing directors together to help give them direction and establishing its credibility as the main voice for children’s service leaders with government and other agencies.

The new body will have a broader membership than the ADSS including third-tier managers, and its potential membership is 3,000 to 4,000 – it will start with about 700.

The new Association of Directors of Adults Social Services (Adass) will be set up in March out of the remains of ADSS, which will be officially wound up at its spring seminar in April.

Coughlan said that staff arrangements for the new organisations were in progress but that initially all of Confed’s staff would be being transferred to ADCS and ADSS’s staff would work for the adults’ services body.

The ADCS has been set up on the back of the Children Act 2004, which states that a single director should have responsibility for all education and children’s social services in councils. Negotiations over a merger began between ADSS and Confed in October 2005.

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  Amy Taylor

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