Assistant Director - Early Help and Social Care

Location: Lewes, East Sussex
Salary: Up to £115,000
Reference: A000057
Deadline: Closed

East Sussex children and landscape pics

East Sussex is a great place to live and work. It is a county of huge contrasts. The countryside is beautiful and largely unspoilt, and our towns and villages are vibrant, but we also have areas of significant need and challenge. We have strong, local communities and work closely with them and our partners from all sectors to help all to fulfil their potential.

The county council has a strong reputation for good services, effective partnership working and innovation. We are committed, both politically and managerially across all departments, to serving all our residents to the very best of our abilities. Working with families, schools, carers and partner agencies to ensure that all children grow up with safe, effective care is a critical responsibility which we take very seriously. At our last ILACS in 2018 Ofsted rated us “Outstanding” but we are not complacent. We know that providing the very best services requires continuous evolution of our practice, empowering and supporting our dedicated staff to bring their compassionate hearts and their full, constantly developing, skills to their work every day. Effective partnerships are also a high priority for us, with the NHS, early years settings, schools, colleges, Police and our district and borough council colleagues.

We are looking for a leader for our Early Help and Social Care service who has significant experience of leading social care and early help services. Someone who is is calm and resilient, is committed to strong, empowering servant leadership of a talented staff group and who has a deep commitment to humane, generous, effective support for families as well as the honed instincts to support difficult decisions about when children need care outside their family either for a period or the longer term. The decisions which you and your service will take are some of the most impactful in all public service and call for integrity and moral leadership of the highest order. We are also looking for a team player who will work imaginatively and energetically with colleagues across the council and the public, private and voluntary sectors to improve outcomes for children.

About the Role

Reporting directly to the Director of Children's Services, the Assistant Director, Early Help and Social Care will provide strategic leadership for the Department as a member of the Senior Management Team, assisting the DCS in meeting the current and future requirements of services for children and families to improve the life chances of every child.  They will lead, direct and develop strategy and resources for Children’s Early Help and Social Care, and for specialist services to support vulnerable children and young people, including young people who offend; and they will ensure that services comply with statutory obligations, and that preparation for and conduct of regulatory activity by Ofsted, including inspections, is managed competently. 

About You

We are looking for a leader who leads authentically, with humility and empathy, who can motivate and support the skilled and dedicated teams in social care and early help and who can also be an effective team player with all our partner agencies. Strong empathy with families, children and young people is essential; we are looking for someone who will play a key moral leadership role within and beyond the service, helping everyone to understand the underlying needs of children and families and how best to engage and work with them to meet those needs. Experience of and insight into effective restorative practice would be an advantage.

Our new Assistant Director, Early Help and Social Care will have:

  • a degree level education or equivalent, be a qualified and SWE registered Social Worker (or able to demonstrate significant experience of managing Children's operational social care services), and be able to evidence continuing professional development;

  • understanding of the relevant legislation and of current national policies and recent developments in children’s services including education, thorough knowledge and understanding of the legislation, policy and practice relating to children’s early help and social care, and knowledge and understanding of the role and functions of local government, and of the legal, financial and political context of public sector management; and

  • experience of leading and managing children’s social care services, substantial and relevant senior management experience in a Local Authority, experience of leading and managing large, complex services and budgets, experience of effective partnership and interagency work, a track record of implementation of effective performance management, experience of aligning business processes and financial planning to achieve service objectives, and a track record of leading significant cultural change in organisations.

They will be a person who:

  • is willing to act corporately and collaboratively;
  • has personal commitment to improving outcomes for children through services;
  • is creative, innovative and change-orientated;
  • is committed to equalities in access and delivery of services;
  • has a professional manner commanding credibility and confidence of stakeholders, including head teachers;
  • possesses the ability to focus on outcomes and priorities;
  • has a flexible approach (in thought and deed); and
  • possesses a high level of energy, drive and resilience.

If this sounds like you and you are a committed leader, stimulated by working with colleagues on well managed continuous improvement, East Sussex County Council would welcome an application from you.

Indicative Timetable

Closing date for applications:  Friday 8 October 2021

Technical Interviews:  Friday 15 October and Friday 22 October 2021

Youth Panel Interviews: Thursday 28 October between 12:30 and 16:00

Assessment Centre, Officer Panel and Final Member Interviews: Week commencing Monday 1 November 2021


For a confidential discussion please speak to:

Sarah Longbottom
Senior Consultant
Tel: 0121 312 3755

Martin Tucker
Managing Director
Tel: 0121 312 3755


To apply for this job please submit your CV, a Supporting Statement (no more than four sides of A4), a completed Candidate Application Form and a completed Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form to quoting: ‘Vacancy: Assistant Director - Early Help and Social Care, Reference: A000057’.

Download candidate application form Download

Download equal opportunities form     Download

Your Supporting Statement should address the criteria set out in the ‘Experience’ section of the person specification using examples to demonstrate how you meet as many of the essential requirements as possible. Please note the indicative timetable above and let us know if there are any dates when you are not available. Please also provide the names and contact details of two referees, one of whom should be your current or most recent employer. If you do not wish us to approach your referees without your prior permission, then you should state this clearly.