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Our data

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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 143,469 in 2022/23, an increase of 12.4%. 

  • The biggest increases have been in private law proceedings. We worked with 97,098 children in private law proceedings in 2022/23 compared with 82,818 in 2017/18, an increase of 17.2% 

  • Around two-thirds of the children we work with 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 67.7% in 2022/23. 

  • 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 (Q2 2023/24). 

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.

1 April 2023 – 31 January 2024

Text reads: Total new children's cases - year-to-date. Children's cases: 46,165. Children: 71,487. Open children's cases. 30,096 children's cases. 48,721 children. Compared to the same period last year (1 April 2023 - 31 January 2024) figures represent: A decrease in the total number of new children's cases (-207) -0.4%. A decrease in the number of new public law children's cases (-289) -2.1%. An increase in total number of new private law children's cases (+82) +0.2%.

Headline findings

  • In January 2024, Cafcass received 5,110 new children's cases (7,808 children). 

  • The average daily demand level in January 2024 was 232 children's cases per working day compared to 216 children's cases received per working day during January 2023. 

  • There were 30,096 of open children’s cases at the end of January 2024, involving 48,721 children, when compared to the same period last year it is a reduction of 9.5% (-3,144 children’s cases / -5,894 children). 

For the financial year to date (1 April 2023 – 31 January 2024), the main changes are:

  • A decrease in total case demand (-0.4% / -207 children's cases compared to the same period last year).  

  • A decrease in public law children's cases (-2.1% / -289 children's cases compared to the same period last year). 

  • An increase in private law children's cases (+0.2% / +82 children's cases compared to the same period last year). 

Public law children’s cases (Financial year: 1 April 2023 to 31 January 2024)

Between 1 April 2023 and 31 January 2024, Cafcass received 13,222 new public law children’s cases, involving 21,216 children

S31 Care Applications (Financial year: 1 April 2023 to 31 January 2024)

Between 1 April 2023 and 31 January 2024, Cafcass received 9,410 new S31 Care Applications, involving 15,498 children

There has been a decrease of 585 S31 care applications compared to the same period last year (-5.9%) and represents a decrease of 819 children on total applications received during the financial year. On average, Cafcass has received 941 new care applications per month, involving an average of 1,550 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 ten thousand children population by local authorities in England (annually). 

View our public law demand spreadsheet, which includes open children’s cases as well as the number of children subject to S31 Care applications per 10,000 population.

Private law children’s cases (Financial Year: 1 April 2023 to 31 January 2024)

Between 1 April 2023 and 31 January 2024, Cafcass received 32,943 new private law children’s cases, involving 50,271 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. 

View our private law demand spreadsheet, which includes open children’s cases.

Open children’s cases (January 2024 snapshot)

There are currently 30,096 open children’s cases. This is 3,144 fewer children's cases (-9.5%) than the same time last year. These children’s cases involve 48,721 children, which is 5,894 (-10.8%) fewer children compared to the same month last year.  

Open children’s cases have decreased in comparison to the end of the previous financial year. Cafcass had 11,852 open public law children's cases at the end of January 2024, involving 20,929 children. This is -1,592 children's cases (-11.8%) and -3,066 children (-12.8%) compared to the same month last year.  

Cafcass had 18,244 open private law children's cases at the end of January 2024, involving 27,792 children. This is -1,552 children's cases (-7.8%) and -2,828 children (-9.2%) compared to the same month last year.