The Role of the Lead Member for Children's Services

Sally Kendall, Kay Kinder, Jennie Harland, Richard White

01 July 2008

This research, commissioned by the LGA (Local Government Association), explores whether Lead Members for Children's Services have enough information and support to carry out their role effectively, especially for their corporate parenting role. It also explored the overall role, including issues like manageability; commissioning; partnership working; engaging with the end user; arrangements for continuity; and training.

Key Findings

  • There is diversity in the ways the Lead Member for Children's Services role is undertaken in different authorities, with variation in the time said to be committed to the role; the amount of information, training and support lead members think they receive; and how involved they were in national and regional networks. Sharing the role also varied between local authorities, as did the extent of LMCS's active involvement with end-users and front-line teams.
  • The effectiveness of the LMCS role involves three core elements: partnership; proactivity and proximity. The relationship between an LMCS and DCS (Director of Children's Services) (and other officers) was described as complementary working, underpinned by trust, mutual respect and clarity around the two roles. Political skills and experience as well as substantive knowledge were also characteristics of an effective LMCS. An LMCS's ability to 'make things happen', be effective at engaging and communicating, and be proactive in seeking out knowledge and information were other key qualities highlighted.
  • LMCS tended to feel adequately supported in their role, but there is scope for: further improving the information available to LMCS regarding Children in Public Care ; developing and disseminating strategies for sharing the corporate parenting role; developing the capacity and effectiveness of the corporate parenting role via additional training; considering the role's manageability and succession; and promoting the qualities of successful lead members.
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