Publication of ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for NI 2016/17’

Date published: 12 October 2017

The Department of Health has today published the ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for NI 2016/17’

Children's social care statistics for Northern Ireland

Key Facts and Figures:

Children in Need

  • At 31 March 2017, 22,737 children in Northern Ireland were known to Social Services as a child in need
  • Some 37,618 children were referred to Social Services during 2016/17, the largest proportion of these children were referred by the police (29%) followed by Social Services (20%)

Child Protection

  • At 31 March 2017, 2,132 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
  • A total of 4,021 child protection referrals were received by HSC Trusts, a 6% decrease on the previous year
  • There were 2,139 new registrations to the Child Protection Register and 2,169 de- registrations during the year

Looked After Children

  • At 31 March 2017, 2,983 children were looked after in Northern Ireland. This was the highest number recorded since the introduction of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995
  • The majority of looked after children in Northern Ireland had been looked after for less than three years, with just under a tenth looked after for ten years or longer
  • Three quarters of the looked after children were in foster care placements (78%), 12% placed with parents, 5% in residential care and 4% in other placements. This was similar to previous years
  • During 2016/17 there were 859 admissions to care and 716 discharges

Children’s Residential Homes

  • At 30 June 2017 there were 45 Children’s Residential Homes in the north of Ireland, 41 were statutory and 4 were independent

Day Care

  • At 31 March 2017 there were 4,524 individuals/facilities registered as day care provision for children aged 12 and under in Northern Ireland. This was a 7% decrease on the previous year
  • Similar to the previous years the majority of day care provision was provided by childminders followed by, in descending order, day nurseries, playgroups, out of school clubs and other organisations
  • At 31 March 2017 there were 60,903 registered places for day care in Northern Ireland representing an increase of 6% on the previous year

Notes to editors: 

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

2. This Bulletin is the sixth 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, Looked After Children, Residential Care and Day Care, both at and for the year ending 31 March 2017. Trend analyses are presented regionally and by HSC Trusts.

4. Statistics for the year 2017/18 will be published in October 2018.

   This publication is available online.

5. Further information is available from:

Community Information Branch                 
Department of Health                       
Room 11, Annexe 2,                                                             
Castle Buildings,
Stormont Belfast BT4 3SP

Tel:        (028) 90 528446

Fax:       (028) 90 523288


6. For media enquiries about this press release, please contact the DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email For out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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