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.

Applies to England

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

2021 to 2022 census dates:

  • the census opens on Monday 3 October 2022
  • return census submissions by Monday 31 October 2022
  • the database closure date is Wednesday 30 November 2022

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’s social work workforce 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.

Census documents

The following guidance documents will help you complete the 2021 to 2022 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.


Please use the feedback form if you have any comments about our data collection service, including COLLECT and the service desk.

Published 17 October 2017
Last updated 26 August 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated links and 'Important dates' for the 2021 to 2022 census.

  2. Added link to 'census guide' in the section 'Census documents'.

  3. Updated the database closure date to Friday 26 November 2021.

  4. Updated important dates and added a link to the business and technical specification for 2020 to 2021.

  5. Dates for 2019 to 2020 census added.

  6. Added link to 'Children’s social work workforce census 2019: XML converter and guide' under census documents.

  7. Dates for 2018 to 2019 census added. Links to census documents updated.

  8. Added link to 'COLLECT report specifications' under census documents.

  9. Updated 'Submit your data section' and DfE Sign-in help links.

  10. Updated COLLECT link from secure access to DfE sign in.

  11. 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.

  12. First published.