The statistics in this publication are derived from information collected in the children in need census. The Department for Education has collected the children in need census from local authorities for each full 12 month period since 2009 to 2010. The latest collection covers the year from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020. More information on the children in need census is available in the guide to submitting data.
They provide the latest information on children referred to children’s social care, assessments carried out upon those children and whether a child became the subject of a child protection plan.
A referral is defined as a request for services to be provided by children’s social care and is in respect of a child who is not currently in need.
When a child is referred to children’s social care, an assessment is carried out to identify if the child is in need of services, which local authorities have an obligation to provide under section 17 of the Children Act 1989. These services can include, for example, family support (to help keep together families experiencing difficulties), leaving care support (to help young people who have left local authority care), adoption support or disabled children’s services (including social care, education and health provision).
A child in need is defined under the Children Act 1989 as a child who is unlikely to reach or maintain a satisfactory level of health or development, or their health or development will be significantly impaired without the provision of children's social care services, or the child is disabled.
A child begins an episode of need when they are referred to children’s social care services. More information on how we calculate episodes is provided in the methodology section.
A child becomes the subject of a child protection plan if they are assessed as being at risk of harm, at an initial child protection conference.
Method for counting the number of children in need episodes
A child can start or end an episode of need more than once during the year, but they should not have over-lapping episodes. For example, if a child began an episode of need in May 2019 which ended in August 2019 and the same child began another episode of need in December 2019 and was still in need at 31 March 2020, this would count as two starts, one end and one count at 31 March 2020. The number of children in need these episodes relate to (a de-duplicated child count) accompanies all episode-level measures. A more detailed explanation of this method is provided in the methodology section.