Our data

Trends over time

  • Although there has been an overall reduction in new applications for public and private proceedings following the Covid-19 pandemic that started in March 2020, the long-term trend over the last five years has been for an increase in the number of children and young people we work with each year from 127,670 children in 2017/18 to 149,018 in 2021/22, an increase of 16.7%. 
  • The biggest increases have been in private law proceedings. We worked with 102,486 children in private law proceedings in 2021/22 compared with 82,818 in 2017/18, an increase of 23.7%. 
  • Around 2/3 of the children we work each year are involved in private law proceedings and 1/3 are involved in public law proceedings. But the percentage of children involved in private law proceedings has increased from 64.9% in 2017/8 to 68.8% in 2021/22. 
  • The number of children’s cases open to Cafcass at any point in time has also increased over time. At the end of March 2022, there were 35,429 open active children’s cases compared to 26,497 in March 2018, an increase of 33.7%. Most of this increase has been the result of the pandemic and is due to the reduction in final hearings and cases closing as the work in the family courts has slowed down during Covid-19. 
  • 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 law Section 31 proceedings. The average length of time we worked with families in public law s31 applications increased from 30 weeks (Q4 2017/18) to 44 weeks (Q4 2020/21) and currently stands at 45 weeks (Q2 2022/23).

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.

December 2022


Headline Findings 

  • In December 2022, Cafcass received 4,131 new children’s cases (6,424 children).
  • The average daily demand level in December 2022 was 243 children’s cases per working day compared to 236 children’s cases received per working day during December 2021.
  • The number of active open outstanding children’s cases at the end of December remains at high levels (33,451 children’s cases); this is +11.0% / +3,315 children’s cases compared to March 2020. There are currently 54,872 children on open active children’s cases.

Year to date summary (April – December 2022)

  • A decrease in total case demand (3.7% / 1,622 children’s cases compared to the same period last year);
  • A small decrease in public law children’s cases (0.8% / 101 cases);
  • A decrease in private law children’s cases (4.9% / 1,521 cases).

Public law children’s cases (Financial year: Starting in April 2022)

For the year-to-date, there have been 12,262 new public law children’s cases, involving 19,825 children.

S31 Care Applications (Financial year: Starting in April 2022)

For the year-to-date, there has been an increase of 162 S31 care applications, which is 1.8% more applications compared to the same period in 2021/22, and an additional 648 children. On average, Cafcass has received 1,003 new care applications per month, involving an average of 1,647 children.

Our public law data shows regularly updated statistics covering 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 (Financial Year: Starting in April 2022)

Since 1 April 2022, Cafcass has received 29,836 new private law children’s cases. These cases involved 45,523 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 (December 2022 snapshot)

There are currently 33,451 open active children’s cases, which is 3,315 (11%) more children’s cases compared to March 2020 (at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic). These children’s cases involve 54,872 children.

Compared to March 2020, there were 1,370 additional open active children’s cases in public law (11.3% increase) and 1,945 additional open active children’s cases in private law (10.8% increase).


Quarterly data 2021-23

Cafcass collects data showing . Cafcass produces ‘heat maps’ showing how each Designated Family Judge (DFJ) area is performing in relation to the PLO target […]

Annual summaries

Our annual summaries show the year-on-year cases received for public and private law and care applications. It also includes the annual length of care and […]

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