Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2022/23

Date published: 19 October 2023

The Department of Health has today published ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2022/23’.

Children in Need

  • at 31 March 2023, 22,875 children in Northern Ireland were known to Social Services as a child in need;

  • some 35,503 children were referred to Social Services during 2022/23, the largest proportion of these children were referred by the Police (37%).

Child Protection Register

  • at 31 March 2023, 2,171 children were named 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 1,384 child protection referrals were received by HSC Trusts[1];
  • there were 2,153 new registrations to the Child Protection Register and 2,298 de-registrations during the year.

Children in care

  • at 31 March 2023, 3,801 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 22% of the children in care had been looked after for less than a year, with 32% looked after for five years or longer;
  • just over four fifths of the children in care were in foster care placements (83%), 7% placed with parents, 6% in residential care and 4% in other placements. This was similar to previous years;
  • during 2022/23 there were 980 admissions to care and 748 discharges.

Children’s residential homes

  • at 30 June 2023, there were 52 Children’s Residential Homes in Northern Ireland; 44 homes were statutory and 8 were independent.
  • statutory homes provided 270 places at an average of six places per home; independent homes provided 25 places at an average of three per home.

Children’s day care

  • at 31 March 2023 there were 3,397 individuals/facilities registered as day care provision for children aged 12 and under in Northern Ireland. This was a 6% decrease on the previous year;
  • similar to the previous year, childminders made up the largest number of day care providers followed by playgroups;
  • at 31 March 2023 there were 57,482 registered places for day care in Northern Ireland representing a decrease of 3% on the previous year.

Foster Carers – experimental statistics

  • at 31 March 2023, there were 2,562 HSC Trust recruited foster carers and a further 265 independent sector foster carers;
  • during 2022/23, 555 households received fostering information packs from HSC Trusts; 590 initial home visits were carried out and; 398 fostering assessments were completed;
  • during 2022/23, some 419 foster carers recruited by the HSC Trusts de-registered as carers.

Young people subject to Leaving Care Act – experimental statistics

  • at 31 March 2023 there were 1,738 young people subject to the Care Leaving Act;
  • some 56% had both a named social worker and a personal adviser;
  • of those who had left care, a quarter (25%) were living in a GEM arrangement whilst 22% were living independently.

[1] Referrals in regards to children without an open social work case file.

Notes to editors: 

1. This information was collated by Community Information Branch within the DoH.

2. This Bulletin is the eleventh 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, Day Care, Foster Carers and young people subject to Care Leaving Act, both at and for the year ending 31 March 2023. Trend analyses are presented regionally and by HSC Trusts.

4. This publication is available on the Department of Health website.

5. Further information is available from:

Community Information Branch
Information Analysis Directorate
Department of Health
Room 11, Annexe 2,
Castle Buildings,
Stormont Belfast BT4 3SP
Tel:      (028) 90 522580
Internet: Department of Health

6. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email

7. Follow us on X @healthdpt and linkedIn Department of Health NI | LinkedIn

8. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top