I feel both excited and honoured to be representing ADCS colleagues at a national level and to have the opportunity to give voice to some of the challenges that face children, young people and their families, not forgetting those facing the staff who are called on to support them. I can't recall a time when our support and the services we provide have been needed more. To that end I am thankful that I can draw on the support and skills of my colleagues who chair, attend and contribute to our policy committees, in the regions and to the Association's work in other ways, as well as the ADCS staff team in our Manchester office, brilliantly led by Sarah Caton. It has never been more important to have active networks that can support the work of the Association and I would really encourage everyone who can to be an active member.
We have had some remarkable presidents and Alison, who handed over to me, was certainly one of them. She has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Association to drive improvements and champion children. The work that she led in crafting and launching our policy paper, A country that works for children has made a real impact and is something I am determined to build on with the support of our members and others in the sector. Thankfully, as immediate past president, her support and wise counsel will still be available to both me and the Association. Alison you have truly been a star. I am also fortunate to be supported by our new vice president Rachel Dickinson, DCS in Barnsley. (I have known Rachel since we undertook our DCS training together as part of Cohort 5.)
In my inaugural speech I outlined the Association's priorities for the coming year. I look forward to working with those both in and outside ADCS towards the delivery of these priorities, building on Alison's legacy of delivering a country that works all for children.
Now, more than ever, we need to ensure the needs of children, particularly the most disadvantaged, are at the forefront of government's thinking. I made no apology in starting with the need to ensure the system is adequately resourced for the task we face. There is currently a projected £2bn shortfall in children's services by 2020 which will coincide with an estimated 5m children living in poverty. All of this comes at a time when the demand for services is on the increase.
Our arguments need to be crisp and focused whilst pushing on the importance of early intervention and having a confident and competent workforce in place which includes growing the next wave of systems leaders. We will also focus on a range of young people increasingly hidden, missing from education or living on the margins achieving poor outcomes, particularly in terms of education.
We will take a wide lens view of social policy, an integrated approach that seeks to ameliorate the impacts of poor housing, family poverty, insecure work, social isolation and mental health, and urge government to do so too. There are new glass ceilings in place for young people today in addition to the old glass ceilings that were never quite shattered.
We will support government where changes that are proposed support or enhance good outcomes and constructively challenge when they don't, always asking the question, as our members do each and every day within their own local authorities, ‘does this improve outcomes for children?'
I am really excited at the prospect of driving this work forward over the coming 12 months and am humbled that you have elected me to represent you in this way. Rest assured, with your support I will give it my very best shot.
Stuart Gallimore is ADCS president and DCS in East Sussex. This blog first appeared on the ADCS website