DCS turnover at highest level for a single quarter

Fiona Simpson
Thursday, April 30, 2020

Early 2020 saw local authorities experience the highest number of changes in directors of children’s services in a single quarter since records began, the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) has revealed.

ADCS president Jenny Coles says more BAME DCSs are needed. Picture: ADCS
ADCS president Jenny Coles says more BAME DCSs are needed. Picture: ADCS

An annual update published by the ADCS, which covers the period April 2019 to March 2020, shows that 48 of 151 local authorities in England saw a change in DCS over the reporting period.

Overall, there were 57 changes in DCS post-holders across all local authorities, the report shows. This is above the average of 48.5 changers per year and a slight increase on 51 changes in the same period in 2018/19.

Some 21 of the changes took place during the last quarter (January to March 2020) – the highest number of changes in any single quarter since ADCS records began in 2007.

In 2019/20, 24 new DCS appointments were made – slightly above the average of 21.77.

Nineteen posts were filled by promoting assistant directors while three saw existing directors of adult social services (DASS) fill both posts – becoming a so-called “twin-hatter”. Information was not given about the other two postings.

Some 22 interim appointments were made during 2019/20, the report states.

Eight interim posts were filled by assistant directors, seven of which were from the same local authority. A further 10 interim posts have been filled by former DCSs and two have been filled by chief executives holding the statutory DCS role, the ADCS said. Information was not given about two further postings. 

Currently, there are 15 interim DCSs in post across all 151 local authorities.

The ADCS said that 70 per cent of local authorities (103) had not experienced a change in DCS across the reporting period.

Findings also revealed that seven DCSs had moved from one local authority to another and four DCSs currently oversee more than one local authority. 

Thirty-one DCSs are “twin-hatters”, according to the report.

In terms of gender balance, 91 local authorities currently have a female DCS in post and 60 have a male DCS in post. In 2018/19, there were 84 local authorities with female directors and 68 with male directors.

For the first time DCSs were asked to submit data on their ethnicity. Of the 94 DCSs who submitted data on ethnicity, 84 per cent identified as white British. A further three per cent identified as white Irish and seven per cent identified as "other" white. One per cent identified as "other", the same percentage identified as black African, black Caribbean and as white and Asian.

Jenny Coles, ADCS president, said this showed there are “not enough” black and minority ethnic DCSs across England.

She added: “The DCS role is one of the best in local government and although ethnicity is irrelevant to a person’s capability to do the job, as is their age, gender or any disability, supporting anyone working in children’s services to progress to senior and leadership roles, if they wish to, continues to be a focus for local authorities and the association. It is so important that our workforce reflects our local communities and that the children we work with can see that they too can aspire to be a future leader of children’s services by seeing themselves in the staff who work with them.”

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