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Number of children in need increases

DfE figures show 4% rise in number of children in need

Published on 29th October 2018

There has been an increase in the number of children in need, according to Department for Education figures.

The number of children in need at 31st March has increased this year, from 389,040 in 2017 to 404,710 in 2018, an increase of 4.0%, the statistics reveal.

The characteristics of children in need: 2017 to 2018 England bulletin reveals that the number of episodes of need starting in the year has risen by 1.7% from 400,110 to 406,770, whereas the number of episodes ending in the year fell by 1.3% from 353,860 to 349,130.

The number of children in need at 31st March has fluctuated over the last six years. At its lowest, it was 377,990 in 2013, and has risen to it’s highest level in the current year at 404,710. However, the rate per 10,000 children aged under 18 years in the population was at its highest in 2014.

The number of assessments completed in the year ending 31st March has increased this year, from 606,910 in 2017 to 631,090 in 2018, an increase of 4.0%. The average (median) duration of assessment in 2018 was 31 working days, an increase of two working days from 2017. As there have been major changes to the process of carrying out assessments, the bulletin suggests that comparisons to numbers prior to 2015 are not recommended.

Abuse or neglect was the most common primary need at assessment for children in need at 31st March 2018. This year 53.2% of children in need at 31st March had ‘abuse or neglect’ as their primary need identified at assessment, followed by family dysfunction with 15.4%, and child’s disability or illness at 8.7%.

Domestic violence, which includes that aimed at children or other adults in the household, was the most common factor identified at end of assessment for children in need at 31st March 2018. This year 51.1% of assessments had domestic violence as a factor identified, followed by mental health at 42.6%, which includes the mental health of the child or other adults in the family or household.

Since 2017 most assessment factors have risen in number, with only ‘unaccompanied asylum seeker’, ‘privately fostered’ and ‘other factors’ decreasing, by 330, 80 and 12,550 respectively. Other factors have shown increases and in terms of numbers of assessments, the biggest increases were for mental health, and domestic violence. Some less common categories have seen larger increases in percentage terms, though they remain relatively uncommon overall - particularly ‘trafficking’ and ‘gangs'.

The number of section 47 enquiries within the year has increased, from 185,680 in 2017 to 198,090 in 2018, an increase of 6.7%.

The number of children who were the subject of a child protection plan at 31st March continues to follow the upward trend of recent years.

The number of child protection plans at 31st March has increased this year, from 51,080 in 2017 to 53,790 in 2018, an increase of 5.3%. The number of child protection plans starting and ending during the year both continue to increase. However, the number of child protection plans starting has increased by a 3.6% and those ending increased by 0.8%.

The number of child protection plans starting during the year has increased from 66,410 in 2017 to 68,770 in 2018, an
increase of 3.6%.  The number of children starting these child protection plans in 2018 was 68,590.

Characteristics of children in need: 2017 to 2018 England



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