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Children in the family justice system infographic

Our regularly updated infographic highlights what we know, and what we don’t know, about children’s journeys through the family justice system based on national administrative data.

What we know*What we partially know*What we don’t know*
* from national administrative data


The infographic tries to answer the question; what do we know about children in the family justice system from national administrative data?

How to read the infographic

The infographic is structured as a series of questions across key points in a child’s journey through the courts and allied systems and services.

  • What we know: We have extensive national data which allows us to comprehensively answer the question.
  • What we partially know: We have some national data, but it does not allow us to answer the question for both public and private law or for both England and Wales 
  • What we don’t know: We have no available national data to answer the question.

These questions are categorised using colours, like this:

Click on any (+) bubble to show the latest available data related that particular question.

What do we include?

In most cases data in the infographic is drawn from publicly available administrative data held by different government departments in England and Wales. In some cases, we draw on one-off analysis of safeguarded administrative data that has been undertaken by researchers.

We have written a downloadable data overview which provides more detail on the national administrative data cited in the infographic.

We welcome feedback

This infographic was updated on 29 August 2023

What do we know about children known to children’s services?

In most cases in England and Wales the statutory child protection process for a child and their family does not begin with public law proceedings – children are sometimes already known to local children’s services.

Number of children in children’s social care?

What do we know about children and families as they enter the family justice system?

According to data from the Ministry of Justice, in 2020 the family courts received applications about the future relationships of 114,633 individual children in England and Wales.

Linking data about these children will give us a much richer evidence base for determining the effectiveness of the system and identifying ways to improve it

Private law
Parents separating
Potential public / private law overlap
Public law
Parents struggling to look after children

What do we know about the support families receive on their journey?

Various types of support for families are necessary to prevent family problems form escalating — and, where possible, to be resolved — so that there is no need for an application to be made to the family court.

Private law
Parents separating
Potential public / private law overlap
Public law
Parents struggling to look after children

What do we know about the children and families in the family justice system?

The family justice system routinely collects data about the way that it works — such as how many cases come before the court and how long each case takes — but does not collect information on children’s and families’ own expectations of system and wether their expectations are met.

What do we know about children after they have contact with the family justice system?

The only indicator or feedback that those working in the family justice system have about the impact of decisions on children is whether they subsequently return to court again. Yet by linking data already collected, we can provide insights into children’s short, medium and long-term outcomes.

Click on a question to learn more