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Children in the family justice system infographic

What do we know about children in the family justice system? Our quarterly infographic pulls together what we know, and what we don’t know, about children’s journeys through the family justice system from national administrative data.

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

Overview


As a starting point, we have asked: what do we know about children in the family justice system from national administrative data? We have started with national administrative data because such data is routinely collected (albeit primarily for operational reasons rather than research), covers the whole population and is regularly updated. Of course, there are many other ways to collect information and insights about children in the family justice system and over time we want to build up a comprehensive picture of what we do and do not know from a variety of sources. That way together we can share what we know more effectively and take steps to address the gaps.

We have written a downloadable guidance note which provides more detail on the national administrative data cited in the infographic. We welcome feedback.

This infographic was updated on 13 September 2021.

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 Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru, in 2018/19 the family courts made decisions about the future family relationships of over 70,000 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
Public law
Parents struggling to look after children

What do we know about interventions 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
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 left 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.

What is the impact of COVID-19 on the family justice system?
Click on a question to learn more

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