National statistics for fostering and adoption

Why we track national statistics

At Home for Good we are committed to finding a home for every child who needs one through adoption, fostering or supported lodgings. Alongside working ‘bottom-up’ to find homes and mobilising support to wrap around carers, we also work ‘top-down’ to help find solutions to the complex challenges the sector faces. Digging deeper into these figures helps us to be more effective. Whether in unpacking the geographical nuances in the data, highlighting racial disparity in the system, or identifying barriers that hinder progress, the numbers matter.

It is of paramount importance we remember that these figures tell stories – thousands of stories – of children waiting too long for the stability, care and love they need. They are not data points or lines on a spreadsheet, but precious children who need loving homes where they can thrive. Everyone has a part they can play. We work with policymakers and politicians, local authorities and agencies, volunteers, churches, individuals and families and we won’t stop. Together we can find a home for every child who needs one.

UK-wide statistics

This year in the UK around 38,792 children and young people will enter the care system.1 That is 106 children every day.

There are around 104,808 children in the UK who are looked after away from home.2

Wales has the highest rate of looked after children away from home in the UK at 116 per 10,000 of the under 18 population. Scotland has a slightly lower rate at 98 per 10,000 while the rates in Northern Ireland and England are much lower at 82 per 10,000 and 71 per 10,000 respectively.3

A need for homes

69,170 children live with over 53,000 fostering households across the UK. (4) There are currently 2210 children waiting for adoption in England and 219 children waiting for adoption in Wales. (5)

Read Katie’s fostering story here. Read Victoria’s adoption story here.

Racial disparity

Black children are disproportionately represented in our care system. While Black children make up 5% of the general population, they make up 7% of the looked after children population. (6) Black children are then less likely to go on to be adopted and wait longer to find their adoptive family. (7) When other factors are held constant, Black children spend on average 6.5-8 months longer in the adoption process before moving in with their adoptive family. (8)

More on racial disparity.

Caring for teenagers

Children in care are predominantly older with 38% aged 10-15 years and 26% aged 16 years and over. (9)

Read our 'Brimming with Potential' report Read Dave’s caring for teenagers story here.

(Reference information is available here.)

Are you using our statistics? Get in touch with our Advocacy Lead, Sam – [email protected]

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  • 108 children were adopted from care during 2022/23, an increase of 21% from last year and an increase of 77% from 2021. The significant increase in the number of adoptions is likely to be linked to the impact of COVID-19 on services during 2020/21.80
  • In 2022/23 69% (n=75) of the children were adopted as a single child adoption, whereas 33% (n=33) were adopted as part of a sibling group. There has been a 47% increase in children adopted as a single child adoption and a 13% decrease of the number of children adopted as part of a sibling group since last year.81
  • The average age of a child at adoption is 4 years and 4 months, two months younger than the previous year.82
  • Children wait on average 3 years and 7 months to be adopted, an increase of 3 months since last year.83


  • 243 children were adopted from care in 2022/23, a decrease of 14% (n=283) from the previous year.62
  • The number of children adopted from care had been decreasing in recent years from a high of 385 children adopted during 2014-15.63
  • The average age of a child at adoption is 3 years and 5 months.64
  • In 2022, the average length of time for children from entry into care to adoption was 2 years and 6 months.65


  • Of children who left care in 2022 5% went on to be adopted (n=193), a slight decrease since 2021 (6%) and 2012 (6%).44
  • In 2022, 181 children were placed with adoptive families, this is a 9% decrease since 2021.45
  • 49% of children who were approved for adoption were under the age of two.46
  • In 2022, 41% of children that were waiting to be adopted were part of a family group that services were trying to keep together.47


  • In 2023, 2,960 children were adopted, a 2% decrease from 2022.21
  • The average age of a child at adoption is 3 years and 5 months.22
  • In 2023, the average time between a child entering care and being placed for adoption was 1 year and 7 months, up from 1 year 6 months last year. It then takes a further 10 months (on average) for an adoption order to be granted and the adoption to be completed.23
  • As of October 2023, there were 2210 children waiting for adoption this is an decrease of 25% since 2022. 48% of these children have been waiting for 18 months or more, a 4% decrease from last year.24
  • In 2023, Children aged over 5, male, from an Ethnic Minority (excludes White minorities) background, with a disability and in a sibling group were more likely to be waiting with a PO and less likely to be adopted.25

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