Fall in DCS turnover and new appointments

Only 17 new director of children's services (DCS) appointments were made last year, the second lowest number recorded in the 12-year history of the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS).

The annual update published by the ADCS, which covers the period April 2018 to March 2019, shows that 13 of the 17 new appointments involved the promotion of an assistant director or "second tier" senior manager.

Meanwhile, 20 interim appointments were made, 13 of which were filled by assistant directors - 11 from within the same local authority and two from another area - and seven which were filled by former DCSs.

The update showed that there were 51 DCS post holder changes, marking another significant drop compared with 65 changes recorded for 2017/18, which was a record level.

The ADCS said the figure - which includes brief interim postholders prior to substantive appointments being made - had taken place across 40 local authorities meaning that 112 local authorities had not experienced a change in DCS across the reporting period.

However, 11 DCSs had moved post from one local authority to another with one new multi-local authority arrangement established.

Meanwhile, two former DCSs had returned to take up a statutory DCS role.

The findings also revealed there are currently 40 "twin hatters" - directors who hold both DCS and director of adult services responsibilities.  

The analysis highlighted the average length of time served as a DCS, when factoring in cumulative time spent in multiple local authorities as a DCS, was around four years.

In terms of gender balance, 55 per cent of current DCSs are female - for the period to March 31 there were 84 Las with female directors and 68 LAs with male directors.

Of the 84 LAs with female directors, 19 are ‘twin hatters', a figures slightly higher (22) for the 68 Las with male directors.

Rachel Dickinson, ADCS president, said it was too early to tell if the drop in the total changes of DCS post holders would form a future trend.

"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 four years," she said.

Dickinson said many DCSs had taken up posts within a number of local authorities which was further evidence of experience and expertise remaining in the sector.