NSW Community Services Minister Pru Goward has defended caseworker vacancy rates, saying she inherited worse figures from Labor.

A parliamentary inquiry into ministerial propriety heard on Monday that a former DoCS bureaucrat had implemented a range of savings measures in response to budgetary pressures.

Helen Freeland told the inquiry that some regional directors stopped filling positions from "time to time" in order to meet their salaries budget.

But on Tuesday Ms Goward defended the current childcare protection worker vacancy rate of 10 per cent.

"It was at some stage almost 25 per cent but that is not the case today and the department is well on the way to recruiting the additional workers we need," she told Fairfax Radio.

"This is a very tough job, the turnover rate fluctuates ... and the department has never had the systems in place to have a rapid recruitment procedure."

Ms Goward maintained this was changing, saying an extra 200 caseworkers had been recruited since March.

Currently around 28 per cent of children at risk of serious harm were being seen by caseworkers across NSW, compared to 21 per cent under Labor, she said.

The inquiry, set up by the NSW opposition, is probing a variety of ministerial issues, including whether Ms Goward misled parliament about caseworker numbers.

The minister has been under siege since August when she denied any knowledge of an Ernst & Young report, which contradicted her claims that NSW had more than 2060 caseworkers, when only 1797 positions had actually been filled.

To the ire of the opposition, Ms Goward was not required to front the inquiry on Monday after Premier Barry O'Farrell said no lower house minister needed to attend.

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