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Statistics published: characteristics of children in need 2018-19

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The Department for Education has released statistics on children referred to and assessed by children’s social services for the year ending 31 March 2019.


Key findings:

  • The number of children in need at 31 March was 399,500 which is a decrease of 1% from 2018; the decrease may in part be explained by a rise of 3%, to 343,000, in the number of children that ended an episode of need compared to last year.
  • The number of children that started an episode of need in 2018-19 was relatively unchanged compared to last year at 381,000.
  • There were 52,300 subject to a child protection plan at 31 March 2018, a decrease of 3% from 2018.
  • The number of child protection plans ending during the year increased to 67,900, an increase of 3% from 2018.
  • The number of child protection plans starting during the year fell by 3% to 66,700.
  • Among the figure, 53% of children in need were male, 45% female and 2% unborn or of unknown gender, which is the same as 2018.
  • Since 2015, the age categories of children in need between 10 and 15, and those 16+ have reflected a long-term increase of children in need. The age groups below this have all decreased since 2015.
  • The ethnic breakdown is similar to last year, of all children in need:

- 72% were white

- 9% were mixed

- 9% were black

- 7% were Asian

- 3% were another ethnic group.

  • The number of referrals decreased slightly to 650,900 in 2019 from 655,600 in 2018. 
  • The number of referrals within 12 months of a previous referral increased slightly to 147,200 in 2019 from 143,800 in 2018. 
  • The percentage of referrals that resulted in no further action decreased to 8% between 2012-13 and 2018-19.
  • The percentage of referrals where children were assessed as being not in need increased from 19% to 29% over the same period.
  • The number of assessments completed in the year ending 31 March 2019 was 644,700, an increase from 631,100 at the same point in 2018.
  • The average duration of an assessment is 32 working days.
  • The primary need at assessment remains largely unchanged, with abuse or neglect accounting for 54%. Family dysfunction (15%) and child's disability (8%) were the next largest categories.
  • The number of section 47 enquiries starting in the year ending 31 March 2019 was 201,200, an increase from 198,100 the previous year.
  • The number of initial stage child protection conferences (ICPCs) decreased to 77,400 from 79,500 in 2018, which reverses the upward trend seen from 2013 to 2018.

Access the full data here.

First published 31 October 2019