Impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children’s social care in England.

Coronavirus: child protection system 

Source: Department for Education
Date: 18 August 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) has published the latest data (wave 26) on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children’s social care in England. Findings include: the total number of children who started to be looked after reported in waves 1 to 26 of the survey was 10,450. This is around 29% lower than the same period in 2017-20.

Local authorities were asked about pressures on the care system. Responses provided were very mixed. Some local authorities said that care numbers had increased, for example one said “we have seen an increase in care proceedings being initiated and children and young people coming into the care of the authority. The age ranges of the children being accommodated varies, but is largely very young children or those in later teenage years”. Other local authorities said care numbers remained consistent “in regards to pressures on the care system, (LA name)’s children’s looked after population has remained relatively stable over the last few months and (LA name) have not seen huge fluctuations in the number of children coming on or ceasing to be looked after on a monthly basis.” (Page 20 of the report).


A sizeable proportion of local authorities reported that their care numbers have reduced and for some the numbers of children in care are now below pre-pandemic figure. At least local authority attracted the reduction to improvements in their ways of working based on a systemic practice model and specifically, to improvements to pre-proceedings processes, discharge from care processes and special guardianship orders and edge of care systems.

Read the report: Vulnerable children and young people survey
Read the latest survey: Vulnerable children and young people survey: summary of returns waves 1 to 26 (PDF)

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