Our data

Trends over time

  • Over the last five years the trend as been for an increase in the number of children and young people we work with each year from 122, 945 children in 2016/7 to 143,129 in 2020/21, an increase of 16.4%.
  • The biggest increases have been in private law proceedings. We worked with 97,496 children in private law proceedings in 2020/1 compared with 79,180 in 2016/17 an increase of 23.1%.
    Around 2/3 of the children we work each year are involved in private law proceedings and 1/3 are involved public law proceedings. But the children involved in private law proceedings has been increasing from 64.4% in 2016/7 to 68.1% in 2020/1.
  • The number of children’s cases open to Cafcass at any point in time has also increased over time. At the end of the 2020/21 financial year (March 2021) there were 36,822 open children’s cases compared to 24, 368 in March 2017, an increase of 51.1%. Most of this increase has been the result of the pandemic, due to the reduction in final hearings and disposals as the work in the family courts has slowed down.
  • The considerable pressure on the family courts means children and families are in proceedings for longer, and this has become particularly acute since the Covid-19 pandemic. We produce quarterly data for the length of time we work with children and families in public and private law proceedings. The average length of time we worked with families in private law proceedings increased from 18 weeks at the end of Q4 2016/7 to 27 weeks by end of Q4 2020/21 and in our latest quarterly data stands at 28 weeks (Q1 2021/2). In public law the increase over the same period has been 29 weeks (Q4 2016/7) to 44 weeks (Q4 2020/21) and currently stands at 44 weeks (Q1 2021/2).

 

Cafcass private law and public law demand statistics are published on the tenth working day of each month. If you have any queries about the statistics, please contact us via our website form.

October 2021

Total new children's cases - year to date

  • In October 2021 Cafcass received 4,841 new children’s cases (7,645 children).
  • The average daily demand levels in October 2021 was 231 children’s cases per day compared to 260 children’s cases received per day during October 2020.
  • The number of active open outstanding children’s cases at the end of October remains at high levels (35,654 children’s cases) this is 2.6% / 935 fewer children’s cases compared to October 2020. There are currently 57,547 children on open active children’s cases.

Overall year-to-date summary (April 2021 – October 2021)

Financial year to date (April 2021 to October 2021) totals, the main changes are:

  • A decrease in total case demand (5.5% / 2,031 children’s cases compared to the same period last year);
  • A reduction in public law children’s cases (10.2% / 1,080 cases)
  • A reduction in private law children’s cases (3.6% / 951 cases)

Public law children’s cases (Year-to-date: April – October 2021)

In the year-to-date, there have been 9,534 public law children’s cases, involving 15,178 children.

Our public law data shows regularly updated statistics showing both national and local trends for:

  • the total number of public law cases
  • the number of care order applications made by local authorities and the number of children involved (monthly)
  • the length of time taken to complete care and supervision proceedings (quarterly)
  • number of care order applications by local authorities in England (quarterly)
  • the rate of care order applications per 10k children population by local authorities in England (annually).

Please click here to view the public law demand spreadsheet, which includes open active children’s cases.

Private law children’s cases (Year-to-date: April – October 2021)

Cafcass received 25,203 private law children’s cases between April to October 2021. These cases involved 38,626 children.

Private law demand is generally used to refer to applications made following a divorce or separation about the arrangements for children, such as where a child will live or with whom a child will spend time.

Please click here to view the private law demand spreadsheet, which includes open active children’s cases.

Open active children’s cases (October snapshot)

There are currently 35,654 open active children’s cases, which is 5,518  (18.3%) more children’s cases compared to March 2020 (at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic). These children’s cases involved 57,547 children. There were 1,544 additional open active children’s cases in public law compared to March 2020 (12.8% increase) and 3,974 additional open active children’s cases in private law (22% increase).

Note: Figures are provided from our national databases, the current electronic children’s case management system (ChildFirst) and historical case management system (CMS). In private law the unit of measurement is a child’s case (note a child’s case can involve multiple children and multiple application types). These are counted upon receipt of the application from the court and entry into the database. ChildFirst is a live system and any late entries will be accounted for upon the release of subsequent updates to this data.

Annual summaries

  • Number of public law cases received

    April 2020 – March 2021

    • Between April 2020 and March 2021 Cafcass received a total of 17,581 applications

    April 2019 – March 2020

    • Between April 2019 and March 2020 Cafcass received a total of 18,040 applications

    April 2018 – March 2019

    • Between April 2018 and March 2019 Cafcass received a total of 18,365 applications

    April 2017 – March 2018

    • Between April 2017 and March 2018 Cafcass received a total of 18,847 applications.

    April 2016 – March 2017

    • Between April 2016 and March 2017 Cafcass received a total of 18,750 applications.

    Updates to this information is published on an annual basis.

  • Number of care applications received

    April 2020 – March 2021

    • Between April 2020 and March 2021 Cafcass received a total of 12,786 applications.
    • This figure is 2.39% lower when compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2019 – March 2020

    • Between April 2019 and March 2020 Cafcass received a total of 13,100 applications.
    • This figure is 3.5% lower when compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2018 – March 2019

    • Between April 2018 and March 2019 Cafcass received a total of 13,575 applications.
    • This figure is 4.5% lower when compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2017 – March 2018

    • Between April 2017 and March 2018 Cafcass received a total of 14,222 applications.
    • This figure is 2.7% lower when compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2016 – March 2017

    • Between April 2016 and March 2017 Cafcass received a total of 14,599 applications.
    • This figure is 14% higher when compared with the previous financial year.

    Updates to this information is published on an annual basis.

  • Number of private law cases received

    April 2020 – March 2021

    • Between April 2020 and March 2021 Cafcass received a total of 45,780 new private law cases.
    • This figure shows a 0.8% increase compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2019 – March 2020

    • Between April 2019 and March 2020 Cafcass received a total of 45,694 new private law cases.
    • This figure shows a 4.20% increase compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2018 – March 2019

    • Between April 2018 and March 2019 Cafcass received a total of 43,842 new private law cases.
    • This figure shows a 4.9% increase compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2017 – March 2018

    • Between April 2017 and March 2018 Cafcass received a total of 41,794 new private law cases.
    • This figure shows a 3.1% increase compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2016 – March 2017

    • Between April 2016 and March 2017 Cafcass received a total of 40,506 new private law cases.
    • This figure shows an 8.3% increase compared with the previous financial year.

    Updates to this information is published on an annual basis.

How long care and supervision cases last

The target length of time for completing care and supervision (s31) cases, as set out in the Public Law Outline (PLO), is 26 weeks.

  • Quarterly statistics

    Cafcass collects data showing Case duration per quarter broken down by local authority.

    Cafcass produces ‘heat maps’ showing how each Designated Family Judge (DFJ) area is performing in relation to the PLO target of 26 weeks.

    Latest release: In Q1 of 2021-22 the national average for care and supervision (s31) application duration is 44 calendar weeks.

    Please refer to the DFJ Duration Trend file for historical information – DFJ Duration Trend History

    Note: The duration is measured from when the application is issued to when the application completes. Applications may be in relation to one child only, or many children. All average durations are presented to the nearest whole week and calculated from the total number of calendar days it takes to complete. See more details for how the calculations are made.

  • Annual summaries

    The average for 2020-21 is 41 calendar weeks, this is up by 7 weeks on the previous year.

    The average for 2019-20 is 34 calendar weeks, this is up by 3 weeks on the previous year.

    The average for 2018-19 was 31 calendar weeks, this is up by 2 weeks on the previous year.

    The average for 2017-18 was 29 calendar weeks, this is up by 1 week on the previous year.

    The average for 2016-17 was 28 calendar weeks, this is down by 1 week on the previous year.

    The average for 2015-16 was 29 calendar weeks, this is down by 1 week on the previous year.

    The average for 2014-15 was 30 calendar weeks, a seven week reduction compared with the average of 37 weeks for 2013-14

    The average for 2013-14 was 37 calendar weeks, an eleven week reduction compared with the average of 48 calendar weeks for 2012-13.

    The average for 2012-13 was 48 weeks, a nine week reduction compared with the average of 57 weeks for 2011-12.

National picture of care applications in England  

Cafcass produces annual statistics on the number of care applications received per 10,000 child population – the rate of care applications – by each local authority (LA) in England with children’s services responsibilities. The latest information available is for the years 2008-2009 to 2016-2017.

The rate of care application is significant as it helps identify trends in care proceedings independent of population growth. 

The below table shows the national rates of care applications between the year 2009-2010 to 2018-2019. You can also download the Table of LA rates of care application per 10,000 population.

2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
2019-20
National Rate 8.0 8.3 9.0 9.7 9.2 9.7 11.0 12.3 11.9 11.3 10.8

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