Publication of ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2021/22’

Date published: 03 November 2022

The Department of Health has today published the ‘Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2021/22’.

doh latest statistics

Children in Need

  • At 31 March 2022, 24,545 children in Northern Ireland were known to Social Services as a child in need;
  • Some 34,969 children were referred to Social Services during 2021/22, the largest proportion of these children were referred by the Police (36%).

Child Protection Register

  • At 31 March 2022, 2,346 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 (73%);
  • A total of 1,552 child protection referrals were received by HSC Trusts[1];
  • There were 2,051 new registrations to the Child Protection Register and 1,963 de- registrations during the year.

Children in care

  • At 31 March 2022, 3,624 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, 7% in residential care and 4% in other placements. This was similar to previous years;
  • During 2020/21 there were 893 admissions to care and 726 discharges.

Children’s residential homes

  • At 30 June 2022, there were 48 Children’s Residential Homes in Northern Ireland, 42 homes were statutory and six were independent.
  • Statutory homes provided 255 places at an average of six places per home; independent homes provided 22 places at an average of four per home.

Children’s day care

  • At 31 March 2022 there were 3,606 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, childminders made up the largest number of day care providers followed by playgroups;
  • At 31 March 2022 there were 59,213 registered places for day care in Northern Ireland representing a decrease of 1% on the previous year.

Foster Carers – experimental statistics

  • At 31 March 2022, there were 2,604 HSC Trust recruited foster carers and a further 264 Independent sector foster carers or carers only providing care to children with disabilities;
  • During 2021/22, 579 households received fostering information packs from HSC Trusts, 723 initial home visits were carried out, and 411 fostering assessments were completed;
  • During 2021/22, some 253 foster carers recruited by the HSC Trusts de-registered as carers.

Young people subject to Leaving Care Act – experimental statistics

  • At 31 March 2022 there were 1,625 young people subject to the Care Leaving Act;
  • Some 59% had both a named social worker and a personal adviser[2];
  • Of those who had left, 26% were living independently whilst a quarter (25%) were living in a GEM arrangement.

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

[2] Excludes a small number who were waiting for social worker/personal adviser allocation.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This information was collated by Community Information Branch within the DoH.
  1. This Bulletin is the tenth 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’.
  1. Areas covered within the bulletin include: Children in Need, Child Protection, Children in Care, Residential Care and Day Care, Foster Carers and young people subject to Care Leaving Act, both at and for the year ending 31 March 2022. Trend analyses are presented regionally and by HSC Trusts.
  1. This publication is available on the Department of Health website.
  1. 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


  1. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email
  1. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt 
  1. 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.

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