Suffolk children in care or protection numbers drop

The number of children requiring care or protection has fallen in Suffolk since last year, social services said.

Suffolk County Council figures show the number of children 'at risk' with a Child Protection Plan fell from 649 in August 2011 to 401 in August 2012.

The number of children in care went from a high of 820 in October 2011 to 772 in August 2012.

The council said 70% of its social workers had less than two years' experience since qualifying.

Councillor Graham Newman, cabinet member for young people's services, said: "It's very good to see the figures coming down, because it's extremely costly to the council which is why we're moving to more preventative work with our integrated teams to prevent children ever coming into care.

"Back in 2009, the council took the decision to increase the number of social workers to reduce workload, so actually we are coping better.

"But recruiting lots of new people means you do reduce the number of older, more experienced people in proportion to the rest."

The council said it was developing a payment and reward strategy to retain staff.

Ruth Cartwright, a manager for the British Association of Social Workers, said: "I was a little surprised at the high proportion of relatively newly qualified social workers that Suffolk has, but they seem to be taking sensible measures to deal with that."

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