Number and rate of children in need at 31 March
There were 404,310 children in need in 2022 and the associated rate per 10,000 children was 334.3, or 1 in every 30 children. The latest figures represent a rise on both 2021 and 2020 and are the highest since 2018.
Number and rate (per 10,000 children) of children in need at 31 March, 2018 to 2022
|2018||2019||2020||2021||2022||21 to 22 change||20 to 22 change|
Source: Children in Need census
- Rates per 10,000 children are calculated based on ONS mid-year population estimates for children aged 0 to 17 years.
Episodes of need in the year to 31 March
An episode of need begins when a child is referred to children’s social care services and is assessed as being in need of children’s social care services. Episodes of need exclude referrals which require no further action or where a child is subsequently assessed as not in need. A child can have more than one episode during the year and on average has two episodes a year.
The number of episodes starting is the highest since 2014. Both the number of episodes starting and those ending increased compared to 2021, but the number of episodes starting did so at a faster rate (8.8% compared to 5.0%).
Duration of episodes of need in the year to 31 March
Almost half of all episodes ending in 2022 lasted 3 months or less, whereas just under 1 in 10 lasted for more than two years; this pattern is similar to previous years.
Children in need at 31 March by characteristics
In 2022, males continued to be slightly over-represented in the children in need population; 54% were male, compared to 51% of the overall child population (as shown in latest ONS mid-year population estimates).
Of those where ethnicity was known, 7 in 10 children in need were white in 2022 and 3 in 10 were from all other ethnic groups combined.
The proportion of children in need from all other ethnic groups combined has increased since 2015. This in part reflects the changes to the overall population as reported in the school census.
The children in need population is ageing and those aged 10 and over now make up the majority.
In 2022, young people aged 18 or over who were still receiving care and accommodation or post-care support from children’s social care services accounted for 1 in 8 children in need. Unborn children accounted for 1 in 55.
Characteristics of children in need at 31 March, 2015 and 2022
|2015 (%)||2022 (%)||Change|
|Unknown or Indeterminate/Unborn||2.0||2.1||+0.1|
|Asian or Asian British||6.8||8.0||+1.2|
|Black or Black British||8.2||8.7||+0.5|
|Other ethnic groups||2.1||3.8||+1.7|
|1 - 9 years old||44.6||36.9||-7.7|
|10 – 15 years old||30.1||32.4||+2.3|
|16 and over||18.2||24.5||+6.3|
- White comprises white British, white Irish, traveller of Irish heritage, Gypsy/Roma and any other white background.
- Mixed comprises white and black Caribbean, white and black African, white and Asian and any other mixed background.
- Asian or Asian British comprises Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese and any other Asian background.
- Black or black British comprises Caribbean, African and any other black background.
Children in need plans - experimental statistics
Experimental statistics are official statistics that are in the testing phase and not yet fully developed.
Data on Children in Need (CIN) plans has been collected and reported on for the first time in the 2022 statistics, with 144 out of 152 local authorities providing data. Of those that did, it is likely that recording practices varied across local authorities therefore the data should be treated with caution.
The data has been collected with the intention of helping the department to develop its understanding of the child’s journey following a referral to children’s social care services.
A CIN plan should be developed where an assessment finds that the child requires support from their local authority’s children's social care services to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health and/or development.
CIN plans require a lower level of intervention and are distinct from child protection plans, which are put in place when a child is found to have suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm. Children on CIN plans and children on protection plans are also distinct from children looked after by local authorities; care-leavers; those who are disabled but not on a CIN plan; and those who may potentially be on another type of plan or arrangement.
CIN plans should set out the support to be provided to a child and/or family by Children’s Services. The plan should also set clear measurable outcomes for the child and expectations for the parent(s) or carer(s).
144 out of 152 (95%) local authorities provided data on CIN plans. They recorded 104,940 children on CIN plans at 31 March 2022, and the associated rate per 10,000 children was 91.2. Applying this rate nationally to account for missing data suggests that there were approximately 110,000 children on CIN plans at 31 March 2022.
Further figures on CIN plans are available in table B7 of the Table Tool.