Guidance: Children in need census: guide to submitting data

Department For Education

October 13
15:58 2021

The children in need census is an annual statutory census for all local authorities. You must complete statutory censuses by law unless theres a good reason not to.

The census covers the financial year (1 April to 31 March).

It collects data on children referred to local authority social care services because their health or development is at risk. This includes:

  • children in local-authority care (in placements in a residential home, in a foster family, or with relatives)
  • children who are getting support from their local authoritys social care services
  • children who are the subject of a child protection plan
  • unborn children who will potentially need support from social care services

Important dates

2021 to 2022 census dates:

  • census opens: Friday 1 April 2022
  • deadline for loading data: Thursday 30 June 2022
  • deadline for submitting data: Friday 29 July 2022

Submit your data

Youll need to:

  • register and log in with DfE Sign-in
  • use COLLECT to submit your data

Please contact your school or local authority approver, if:

  • you want to request a DfE Sign-in username or password so you can access COLLECT
  • children in need census is not on the list of collections you can see in COLLECT

Get help using DfE Sign-in

If you do not know who your approver is, please use the DfE Sign-in request form.

If youve forgotten your password, use DfE Sign-in to reset it. You will need to click Start now and then the Ive forgotten my password link.

Note that well only be able to change the status of your data submission to authorised once youve cleared all errors in the data in COLLECT.

Census documents

These documents will help you complete the census:

2021 to 2022 census guides

2022 to 2023 census guides

Factors identified at the end of assessment

This additional guide on the factors identified at the end of assessment (PDF, 231KB, 16 pages) explains how to complete the factors identified at the end of the assessment data item.

The definitions of the existing assessment factors have been updated to improve clarity and better support social workers in completing this valuable data item.

The guide includes information on the new child criminal exploitation assessment factor, which will be collected for the first time in the 2021 to 2022 census.

Do you need help?

Submitting data

For complex questions, please use the service request form. We aim to answer your question within 5 working days.


Please use the feedback form if you have any comments about our data collection service, including COLLECT and the helpdesk service.

Published 25 March 2014
Last updated 13 October 2021 +show all updates
  1. Updated the 2021 to 2022 census dates and added links to the 2022 to 2023 census guides.

  2. Added a link to the 2021 to 2022 COLLECT reports specifications.

  3. Updated 'Additional guide on the factors identified at the end of assessment' to improve clarity and give information on the new child criminal exploitation assessment factor.

  4. Added a link to the 2021 to 2022 census guides, technical specification and validation rules.

  5. Removed 2019 to 2020 census guides and added 2021 to 2022 census guide.

  6. 2019 to 2020 census dates information updated.

  7. Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: the children in need data collection will not open on 1 April.

  8. Added link to XML generator.

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