The beleaguered Department of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) says it has been hit by yet another surge in reports of possible child abuse and neglect.

Acting chief executive Brenda Pilott told a parliamentary select committee today the number of unallocated cases rose to 3132 in the last four months.

National MP Katherine Rich said that in June, the number of cases waiting to be assigned to a social worker was 1780.

This represents a 75 per cent increase in six months.

More than two years ago CYF accepted a recommendation that it should reduce the number of unallocated cases to zero within six months.

Ms Pilott said the department had not abandoned the target, but there was no date yet to achieve it.

Ms Rich said she was alarmed at the rapid rise in unallocated cases.

It appeared that despite all the reports, money and assistance, CYF had given no indication how they could fix problems.

"It is worse than I thought, these numbers all represent children who are not being treated well by the service. The department has little idea whether any one of those children is a tragedy waiting to happen," Ms Rich said after the committee meeting.

The latest problem for the department follows a damning review by Treasury, CYF, the State Services Commission and the Social Development Ministry.

The report, released last week, found the department was grossly underfunded and struggled to manage complex services.

The Government has been pouring money into CYF, but admits that will not solve all the problems.

Officials told MPs at the select committee that a campaign to recruit social workers would begin this weekend.

This would be done first locally, but if this did not succeed CYF would hunt for social workers overseas.

Ms Pilott told the committee that the continuing increase in notifications was a worldwide trend.

In this country there tended to be a surge after high profile abuse or neglect cases.

CYF Minister Ruth Dyson told MPs that there was no point in finding someone to blame for the department's woes. She believed the department could be turned around, but only if all of the baseline recommendations were successfully implemented.

Ms Dyson said there had been no pressure from any ministers for CYF chief executive Jackie Pivac to resign.

Ms Pivac resigned earlier this week.

Ms Pivac has also seen a report, to be released next week, by Commissioner for Children Cindy Kiro into the deaths of half-sisters Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson.

The girls were murdered by their stepfather, Bruce Howse, at their Masterton home in December, 2001. Howse is serving a minimum 25-year prison sentence.

The report is said to be critical of CYF's care of the children.

Ms Pivac is currently on two weeks leave and is to return to work.

Ms Dyson said she did not know how long Ms Pivac would be returning for or when a new chief executive might start, and that area was not her responsibility.

- NZPA