ALMOST 20,000 children in Wales were deemed to be "in need" by last year's census of Welsh councils, a rate of 315 per 10,000 children aged under 18 years, and 60 who were unborn.

More than a third of referrals were from councils and a further 30 per cent from the police and health services, according to data published by Welsh Government this week derived from children in need census returns submitted by local authorities.

Children in need are defined as those who receive social services from their local authorities, including those looked after by councils, and who had a case open for at least 3 months at the census date of March 31, 2013.

Of the 19,860 children in question (excluding 60 unborn children), around 1,045 of them had substance misuse problems, including 150 in Caerphilly, the second highest figure of all Welsh authorities but the highest percentage.

Around 22 per cent of all Welsh children in need had a disability, and parental substance misuse, domestic abuse and parental mental ill health were each recorded for about a quarter of children in need.

The attainment of children in need at each key stage assessment was much lower than the average for all pupils.