Skip to main content

Children in need census 2019 to 2020

Guide for local authorities – version 1.0

The children in need census 2019 to 2020 covers all children who are referred to children’s social care services even if no further action is taken

This includes children looked after (CLA), those supported in their families or independently (CSF/I), and children who are the subject of a child protection plan.

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 services, or the child is disabled.

In these cases, assessments by a social worker are carried out under section 17 of the Children Act 1989. The purpose of an assessment is to gather information and evidence about a child’s developmental needs and the parents’ capacity to meet these needs within the context of the wider family and community. This information should be used to inform decisions about the help needed by the child.

The children in need census includes all vulnerable children, including: unborn children; babies; older children; young carers; disabled children; and those who are in secure settings. Please note whilst most children will be aged under 18, your return should include young people aged 18 or over who are still receiving care and accommodation or post-care support from children’s services.