How local authorities should collect data from social care services to complete the annual children in need census.
The children in need census is an annual statutory census for all local authorities. You must complete statutory censuses by law unless there’s a good reason not to.
The census covers the financial year (1 April to 31 March).
It collects data on children referred to local authority social care services because their health or development is at risk. This includes:
- children in local-authority care (in placements in a residential home, in a foster family, or with relatives)
- children who are getting support from their local authority’s social care services
- children who are the subject of a child protection plan
- unborn children who will potentially need support from social care services
2020 to 2021 census dates:
- census opens: Thursday 1 April 2021
- deadline for loading data: Wednesday 30 June 2021
- deadline for submitting data: Friday 30 July 2021
Submit your data
You’ll need to:
- register and log in with DfE Sign-in
- use COLLECT to submit your data
Please contact your school or local authority approver, if:
- you want to request a DfE Sign-in username or password so you can access COLLECT
- ‘children in need census’ is not on the list of collections you can see in COLLECT
Get help using DfE Sign-in
If you do not know who your approver is, please use the DfE Sign-in request form.
If you’ve forgotten your password, use DfE Sign-in to reset it. You will need to click ‘Start now’ and then the ‘I’ve forgotten my password’ link.
Note that we’ll only be able to change the status of your data submission to ‘authorised’ once you’ve cleared all errors in the data in COLLECT.
These documents will help you complete the census:
2020 to 2021 census guides
- census guide
- technical specification and validation rules
- COLLECT guides
- COLLECT report specifications
2021 to 2022 census guides
Factors identified at the end of assessment
Thisexplains how to complete the factors identified at the end of the assessment data item.
It includes information on the new child on child and adult on child sexual and physical abuse factors which are to be collected from the 2020 to 2021 census.
The additional guide is being revised for 2021 to 2022. The changes will include the new Child Criminal Exploitation assessment factor, which will be collected for the first time in the 2021 to 2022 census. The definitions of the existing assessment factors will also be updated to improve clarity and better support social workers in completing this valuable data item. We plan to publish the updated guide by the end of January 2021.
Do you need help?
For complex questions, please use the service request form. We aim to answer your question within 5 working days.
Please use the feedback form if you have any comments about our data collection service, including COLLECT and the helpdesk service.