Publication of ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for NI 2017/18’

Date published: 11 October 2018

The Department of Health has today published the ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for NI 2017/18’.

Children's social care statistics for Northern Ireland

Key Facts and Figures:

Children in Need

  • At 31 March 2018, 23,510 children in Northern Ireland were known to Social Services as a child in need;
  • Some 36,022 children were referred to Social Services during 2017/18, the largest proportion of these children were referred by the police (31%) followed by Social Services (17%);

Child Protection

  • At 31 March 2018, 2,082 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 3,407 child protection referrals were received by HSC Trusts, a 15% decrease on the previous year;
  • There were 1,921 new registrations to the Child Protection Register and 1,946 de- registrations during the year.

Looked After Children

  • At 31 March 2018, 3,109 children were in care in Northern Ireland. This was the highest number recorded since the introduction of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995;
  • The majority of children in care in Northern Ireland had been looked after for less than three years, with just under a tenth looked after for ten years or longer;
  • Four fifths of the children in care were in foster care placements (79%), 12% placed with parents, 5% in residential care and 4% in other placements. This was similar to previous years;
  • During 2017/18 there were 848 admissions to care and 732 discharges.

Children’s Residential Homes

  • At 30 June 2018 there were 45 Children’s Residential Homes in Northern Ireland, 41 were statutory and 4 were independent;

Day Care

  • At 31 March 2018 there were 4,277 individuals/facilities registered as day care provision for children aged 12 and under in Northern Ireland. This was a 5% 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; and
  • At 31 March 2018 there were 62,638 registered places for day care in Northern Ireland representing an increase of 3% on the previous year.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This information was collated by Community Information Branch within the DoH.
  2. This Bulletin is the seventh 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 2018. Trend analyses are presented regionally and by HSC Trusts.
  4. Statistics for the year 2018/19 will be published in October 2019.
  5. This publication is available online.
  6. Further information is available from:
    Community Information Branch
    Department of Health
    Room 11, Annexe 2
    Castle Buildings
    Belfast BT4 3SQ

    Tel:        (028) 9052 8446
    Fax:       (028) 9052 3288
  7. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office team on 028 9052 0575 or email For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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