From education to employment

Children in need census: guide to submitting data

The children in need census is an annual statutory census for all local authorities. You must complete statutory censuses by law unless there’s 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 authority’s social care services
children who are the subject of a child protection plan

unborn children who will potentially need support from social care services
census opens: Monday 3 April 2023
deadline for loading data: Friday 30 June 2023
deadline for submitting data: Monday 31 July 2023

Submit your data

You’ll need to:

register and log in with DfE Sign-in

use COLLECT to submit your data

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, use the DfE Sign-in request form.

If you’ve forgotten your password, use DfE Sign-in to reset it. You will need to click ‘Start now’ and then the ‘I’ve forgotten my password’ link.

We’ll only be able to change the status of your data submission to ‘authorised’ once you’ve cleared all errors in the data in COLLECT.

Census documents

These documents will help you complete the census:

2022 to 2023 census guides

2023 to 2024 census guides

Factors identified at the end of assessment

This additional guide on the factors identified at the end of assessment (PDF, 231 KB, 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 was collected for the first time in the 2021 to 2022 census.

Do you need help?

Submitting data

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


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

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