Characteristics of children in need.

The Department of Education has published the latest statistics on children in need, in England, for the year 2015 -2016. This data gives an insight into the children, who are referred to and assessed by children’s social services, and the issues they face.


The gender remained similar to previous years with 52.7% of those being referred being male, 45.3% female and 2% unknown/unborn.

The ages of the children referred to social services have also remained similar with largest age group being those aged 10-15 who made up 30.6% of children in need, whilst the under 5’s made up 23.6%.

The percentage of children in need with a disability was 12.7%, this has decreased over the last five years from 14.2% in 2010/11.

Referral source
The source of the referrals showed that the police were the highest referrers (27.6%), followed by schools (16.7%) and Health services (14.3%).

Primary Need
At the time of the first assessment, the most common primary need identified was abuse or neglect (50.6%) followed by family dysfunction (17.4%) and the child’s disability or illness (9.6%)

Additional Need
The factors of need that were identified at the end of the assessment in addition to the primary need are shown below as the percentage of children who had each need:

Domestic violence 49.6%
Mental health 36.6%– child or family member
Drugs misuse 19.3%
Alcohol 18.4%
Emotional abuse 19.3%
Neglect 17.5%
Physical abuse 14%
Sexual abuse 6.4%

The number of referrals in the year ending 31st March 2016 was 621,470, a decrease of 2.2% from the previous year. This is the second year running there has been a decrease following a larger than usual increase in 2014.

However, the number of children classed as being in need at 31st March 2016 has increased from 391,000 in 2015 to 394,400, an increase of 0.9%.