Turnover within DCS posts reaches highest ever level

The ADCS has insisted there remains a lot of expertise in the sector despite high director churn

There were more changes to director of children’s services post holders in 2017/18 than in any year since 2007, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has revealed.

There were 65 changes to the director of children’s services (DCS) post holder among local authorities in 2017/18, the highest number since the association was established in 2007.

Despite this churn, which includes every change to the statutory post holder including interim appointments, the association insists that high levels of expertise had remained in the sector during this period.

“DCSs moving from one LA to another; former DCSs filling interim positions or returning to the DCS role; and a large amount of succession from assistant director level ensures that leadership positions are held by experienced and knowledgeable individuals,” the report said.

Eight local authorities had two changes of DCS over the past year, it was revealed, and most of these changes were due to short-term interim appointments.

Landscape changing

There has been a substantial drop in ‘twin hat’ directors, who hold the statutory position for children’s and adults’ directors, the report said, with 46 being in place as of 31 March 2018, compared to 57 at the same point the year before.

The average duration of a permanent DCS in post had increased over the past five years, the report said, with it now at 37 months, compared to 32 in 2012/13.

There was an even split between female directors (76) and male directors (75), while slightly more men were ‘twin hatters’, with 24 having dual responsibility compared to 22 women.

Commenting on the findings, president of the ADCS Stuart Gallimore said “a great deal of expertise remains in the sector” and there appeared to be an increasing trend towards not having combined arrangements for directors.

“The importance of strong, effective local leadership in children’s services cannot be understated. The children’s services landscape has changed hugely since we first started collecting this data, the most obvious change being a 50% reduction in funding for local government since 2010, whilst demand has significantly increased. As local systems leaders, budget cuts have meant that local authorities are faced with difficult, sometimes counter-intuitive, decisions to cut the very services we know make a huge difference to children and families and reduce demand for high end statutory services,” Gallimore said.

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