Publication of ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2019/20’

Date published: 07 January 2021

The Department of Health has today published the ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2019/20’.

Children's Social care Statistics Image

Key Facts and Figures:

Children in Need

  • At 31 March 2020, 22,414 children in Northern Ireland were known to Social Services as a child in need;
  • Some 33,885 children were referred to Social Services during 2019/20, the largest proportion of these children were referred by the Police (33%).

Child Protection Register

  • At 31 March 2020, 2,298 children were listed on the Child Protection Register;
  • Neglect and physical abuse were the main reasons for a child being on the Child Protection Register and accounted for over three quarters of all on the register (78%);
  • A total of 3,058 child protection referrals were received by HSC Trusts, a 3% decrease on the previous year;
  • There were 2,040 new registrations to the Child Protection Register and 1,945 de- registrations during the year.

Children in care

  • At 31 March 2020, 3,383 children and young people were in care in Northern Ireland. This was the highest number recorded since the introduction of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995;
  • Some 21% of the children in care had been looked after for less than a year, with 30% looked after for five years or longer;
  • Almost four fifths of the children in care were in foster care placements (79%), 10% placed with parents, 6% in residential care and 5% in other placements. This was similar to previous years;
  • During 2019/20 there were 896 admissions to care and 746 discharges;
  • At 30 June 2020, there were 48 Children’s Residential Homes in Northern Ireland, 42 homes were statutory and 6 were independent.

Children’s day care

  • At 31 March 2020 there were 3,955 individuals/facilities registered as day care provision for children aged 12 and under in Northern Ireland. This was a 3% decrease on the previous year;
  • Similar to the previous year, child-minders made up the largest number of day care providers followed by, in descending order, playgroups, day nurseries, out of school clubs and other organisations;
  • At 31 March 2020 there were 61,566 registered places for day care in Northern Ireland representing an increase of 2% on the previous year.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This information was collated by Community Information Branch within the DoH.
  2. This Bulletin is the ninth annual reporting of ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for NI’ which replaced the ‘Children Order Statistical Tables for NI’ and ‘Children Order Statistical Trends for NI’.
  3. Areas covered within the bulletin include: Children in Need, Child Protection, Children in Care, Residential Care and Day Care, both at and for the year ending 31 March 2020. Trend analyses are presented regionally and by HSC Trusts.
  4. This publication is available on the Department's website

    Further information is available from:
    Community Information Branch
    Information Analysis Directorate
    Department of Health
    Room 11, Annexe 2
    Castle Buildings
    Stormont Belfast BT4 3SQ
    Telephone: (028) 9052 2580
    Internet: Department of Health
  5. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email
  6. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt.
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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