Million-pound investment in families has led to fewer children in state care

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A £1m programme to focus on families has resulted in a reduction in the number of children being looked after by West Sussex County Council, a County Hall meeting was told.

Director of children’s services Stuart Gallimore told the children and young people’s services select committee the investment in the family resource team has meant they now have a service to offer families to prevent the need for children to be brought into care.

He said: “This is about making sure the right children are being looked after in the right places in the right amount of time.

“For some children, being in the looked-after system means they are alive - we should not lose sight of that.”

Mr Gallimore said a children’s delivery programme had been embarked on to reduce numbers and a select committee report said the looked-after children population had gone from 749 in April 2011 to 668 in April 2012.

The staffing situation within the department was now far more settled.

A retention and recruitment strategy had increased the workforce and reduced the vacancy level, turnover rates and dependence on agency staff.

There were no senior manager vacancies. Vacancy levels on social worker grade were below national norms; and they had just recruited 18 social workers.