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
2018 to 2019 census dates:
- census opens: Monday 1 April 2019
- deadline for loading data: Friday 28 June 2019
- deadline for submitting data: Wednesday 31 July 2019
2019 to 2020 census dates:
- census opens: Wednesday 1 April 2020
- deadline for loading data: Tuesday 30 June 2020
- deadline for submitting data: Friday 31 July 2020
Submit your data
You should submit your data using COLLECT, our centralised data collection and management system.
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:
2018 to 2019 census guides
- census guide
- technical specification and validation rules
- COLLECT guides
- COLLECT report specifications
2019 to 2020 census guides
If you are looking for guides from past children in need census collections, visit the ‘Children in need census: closed collections’ page.
Do you need help?
For complex questions, please use the service request form. We aim to answer your question within 5 working days.
Reset your Secure Access login details using the forgotten password or username form.
Please contact your school or local authority approver, if:
- you want to request a Secure Access username or password so you can access COLLECT
- ‘children in need census’ is not on the list of collections you can see in COLLECT
If you do not know who your approver is, please use the Secure Access service request form.
Please use the feedback form if you have any comments about our data collection service, including COLLECT and the helpdesk service.