Writing this blog was on my list of ‘things to do' before officially handing over the reins to the wonderful Stuart Gallimore who became president of ADCS on 1 April - although I'm currently in denial that my presidential year is over!
Almost a year ago to the day I was inaugurated into the role of ADCS president - a role which has been an absolute honour to undertake. I've always described the DCS role as ‘the best job in local government' and being president in addition to DCS has been more than just the icing on the cake - it's the cherry on top! This last year has been a whirlwind and one which I will never forget and as March drew to a close, I took the chance to reflect on the past year.
My presidential year was even more special as 2017 marked 10 years since the Association was created. Whilst presidents have come and gone, bringing their unique style and basking in the limelight, behind the scene is the brilliant ADCS team - the one constant that keeps the president well briefed and on the straight and narrow as well as supporting the work of the wonderful ADCS policy committees, council of reference and board of directors.
Presidents are not the only folks who come and go, the churn of secretaries of state and ministers continues - no sooner had we got to know Justine Greening and Robert Goodwill they were ‘reshuffled' and replaced by Damian Hinds and Nadhim Zahawi. Early meetings with the new Education Secretary and children and families minister have been very positive - let's hope it continues that way.
In my inaugural presidential speech I talked about the need for "a country that works for all children". I have relentlessly championed this notion on behalf of ADCS and used several national engagements to explore what this might look like, and how we can prepare our children to thrive, not just to survive. I am delighted that we published our position paper in October 2017 and that it is being quoted to spark debate in government.
The baton I pass on is the challenge of how to resource "a country that works for all children". With the number of children living in poverty expected to exceed five million over the next few years; growing demand and complexity of need amongst the children and families we work with; and at least a £2 billion funding gap expected by 2020, we urgently need a long-term, sustainable solution to the funding pressures we face, underpinned by a relentless focus on earlier intervention and moving in and out of families lives. Without this, the greatest costs will fall on future generations of children and young people.
There have been so many enjoyable moments (and more than a few scary ones too) and I shall be forever grateful for my few minutes on Woman's Hour - not only was this a great opportunity to articulate some of the deepening challenges we face in children's services but it reunited me with a long lost friend who just happened to be listening and got in touch again.
Managing presidential commitments alongside my "day job" has been challenging but also incredibly rewarding. I would like to thank my team in Nottingham, the ADCS team, our former immediate past president, Dave Hill, former vice president, Stuart Gallimore, and all ADCS members for their love, support and supreme tolerance over the last year. The strength of the Association is in its members. In the next couple of weeks I will, reluctantly, hand over my crown and badge of honour to Stuart who I know will be fantastic and is determined to continue our commitment of creating "a country that works for all children". Then it's time for me to quietly return to the back seat, supporting Stuart and ADCS in my new role as immediate past president.
Alison Michalska is immediate past president of ADCS and DCS in Nottingham City. This blog first appeared on the ADCS website