Children’s social work workforce census: guide to submitting data

How local authorities should collect and submit data to complete the children’s social work workforce census.

The children’s social work workforce 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 year from 1 October to 30 September.

It collects data on all children and family social worker staff employed during the census year. This includes staff:

  • who were employed on or before 30 September
  • who left employment during the census year
  • who were employed through an agency on or before 30 September

Local authorities should issue privacy notices to all members of staff. Privacy notices tell staff members about the details of the census and their rights under the Data Protection Act.

Important dates

2017 to 2018 census dates:

  • the census opens on Monday 1 October 2018
  • the deadline for submitting data is Friday 30 November 2018

Submit your data

You should submit your data using COLLECT, our centralised data collection and management system.

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.

Census documents

The following guidance documents will help you complete the 2017 to 2018 census:

If you need help

Submitting data

For complex questions, please use the service request form. We aim to answer your question within 5 working days.

Accessing COLLECT

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 that you can access COLLECT
  • ‘Children and family social work workforce return’ isn’t on the list of collections you can see in COLLECT

If you don’t 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.

Published 17 October 2017
Last updated 10 December 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated COLLECT link from secure access to DfE sign in.
  2. Dates for 2017 to 2018 census added. Outdated links to COLLECT report specifications and validation rules removed. These links will be reinstated when updated documents are available.
  3. First published.