Public law data
If a local authority has serious concerns about the safety or welfare of a child, it can apply to the court to take the child into care. Find out more information about care order applications.
Our data shows regularly updated statistics showing both national and local trends for:
- the number of care order applications made by local authorities (monthly)
- the length of time taken to complete care and supervision proceedings (quarterly)
- the rate of care order applications by local authorities (annually).
Note: Cafcass care demand statistics are published on the eighth working day of each month. Figures are provided from our national databases, the current electronic case management system (ECMS) and historical case management system (CMS). In public law the unit of measurement is a s31 care application. These are counted upon receipt of the application from the court and entry into the database. The ECMS is a live system and any late entries will be accounted for upon the release of subsequent updates to this data.
If you have any queries about the care statistics, please contact us via our website form.
Number of care order applications
The number of care order applications received per month nationally can be seen in the table below. Data broken down by local area (local authority) shows the number of applications and the number of children involved in them per quarter. This also shows the annual rate of applications in each local authority proportionate to the population of children in each area.
Latest release: We received 1,001 new care applications during February 2019. This is 16.1% (192 applications) lower than February 2018.
You can download February 2019 public law demand statistics, which contains the latest official statistics for care applications.
*Please note that a significant IT transition in June 2018 may have affected monthly totals for June.
**Please note that technical issues affecting court processes may have affected October’s monthly total.
***Please note that we consider February’s monthly total to be an outlier compared to recent years.
Care applications received
2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 Apr 806 956 1,225 1,046 1,108 May 873 924 1,160 1,196 1,300 Jun 880 1,115 1,284 1,329 *1,075 Jul 1,022 1,123 1,307 1,246 1,228 Aug 903 941 1,259 1,242 1,178 Sep 913 985 1,235 1,107 1,062 Oct 1,010 1,090 1,155 1,200 **1,237 Nov 890 1,036 1,295 1,228 1,199 Dec 932 1,103 1,094 1,022 979 Jan 893 1,045 1,135 1,172 1,053 Feb 967 1,239 1,152 1,193 ***1,001 Mar 1,070 1,235 1,298 1,240 Total 11,159 12,792 14,599 14,221 12,420
April 2017 – March 2018
- Between April 2017 and March 2018 Cafcass received a total of 14,223 applications.
- This figure is 2.6% 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.
April 2015 – March 2016
- Between April 2015 and March 2016 Cafcass received a total of 12,792 applications.
- This figure is 15% higher when compared with the previous financial year.
April 2014 – March 2015
- Between April 2014 and March 2015 Cafcass received a total of 11,159 applications.
- This figure is 5% higher when compared with the previous financial year.
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.
Cafcass collects data showing Case duration per quarter broken down by local authority.
Please note: this changed from previous information provided, which was based solely on care applications.
Cafcass produces ‘heat maps’ showing how each Designated Family Judge (DFJ) area is performing in relation to the PLO target of 26 weeks.
- Q2 1819 DFJ Heat Map
- Q1 1819 DFJ Heat Map
- Q4 1718 DFJ Heat Map
- Q3 1718 DFJ Heat Map
- Q2 1718 DFJ Heat Map
Latest release: In Q2 of 2017-18 the national average for care and supervision (s31) application duration is 32 calendar weeks.
Only maps that have been updated are available. Please refer to the DFJ Duration Trend file for historical information (see below).
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.
The average for 2017-18 was 31 calendar weeks, this is up by 2 weeks on the previous year.
The average for 2016-17 was 29 calendar weeks, this is down by 1 week on the two previous years.
The average for 2015-16 was 30 calendar weeks, this is the same as the average duration for 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 2017-2018. You can also download the Table of LA rates of care application per 10,000 population.