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Monday, 10 March 2014

Social workers to be placed in Norfolk’s schools

Written by The Editorial Team

A new six-month pilot will see social workers going into Norfolk schools to target needy children.

The six-month pilot is designed as a preventative measure to cut the number of children who ultimiately end up in the care system.

Watchdogs, who last year branded Norfolk County Council’s arrangements for protecting children and its services for looked-after children, as “inadequate”, criticised a lack of early help for families.

Now staff have been seconded to schools in north Norwich, Earlham, Swaffham, Thorpe, Dereham and Great Yarmouth, with another pilot project in a Norwich complex needs school and the city’s Short Stay School.

The aim is to give parents and children early access to a social worker when they are experiencing difficulties.

Council bosses said it would encourage families to come forward if they needed extra help.

The social workers will also support teachers and school staff by providing training and guidance in child protection issues.

James Joyce, cabinet member for safeguarding children, said: “By placing social workers in schools, we hope that families will have someone who they recognise and trust and that this can give them the confidence to ask for help.

“None of us wants families to get into a position where their children come into our care and we are hopeful that this scheme will also help to reduce the number of looked after children in the county.”

Social workers are also working closely with children’s centres to help families before the birth of children and those with pre-school children.

Norfolk County Council has 1,130 children in care – one of the highest rates in the country – and, with the authority looking to save £189m over the next three years, councillors are keen to reduce that number.