More social workers to focus on children

Thursday 13 October 2011, 2:57PM
By Paula Bennett

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is delighted to announce an increase in numbers of social workers both in schools and on the frontline.

“Protecting children is an absolute priority and we need enough qualified social workers focused exclusively on children to do that,” says Ms Bennett.

“We’re answering the call from low decile schools to provide specialist support for children and we’re also boosting frontline social workers to cope with increasing notifications and findings of abuse,” says Ms Bennett.

“Firstly, today I am announcing an additional 149 full-time social workers to support children in low decile primary schools,” says Ms Bennett.

This will extend Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) to all decile 1-3 schools and increases the number of those with SWiS from 285 to 673.

It will cost $11.1 million per year to cover 388 schools currently without SWiS.

“Teachers I’ve talked to in low decile schools ask for specialist workers to deal with children’s increasingly complex and sometimes dangerous home situations and we’re providing that support.”

“The second announcement regards funding for an extra 96 frontline Child, Youth and Family care and protection social workers, a 10 percent increase.”

Notifications to Child, Youth and Family have almost quadrupled over the last six years and substantiated cases of abuse increased 77% in the same period.

“Social workers are responding quickly to notifications, but this will allow more social workers to do the intensive ongoing work needed with complex and dysfunctional families and better support foster parents.”

The extra frontline staff will cost $10.3 million per year.
Extra social workers announced today will be funded through existing budgets.

“I consider these social workers a vital addition to a children’s workforce and consequently, this is money well spent,” says Ms Bennett.

"Through the Green Paper on Vulnerable Children I’m inviting New Zealanders to have a say on how we can make better protect vulnerable children.”

Submissions are open until 28 February 2012.

Over 10,000 people have engaged in the debate on the Green Paper through the website, Facebook or Twitter, with 166 formal submissions received to date.