National statistics for fostering and adoption


This year in the UK, around 35,000 children and young people will enter the care system. 1 That’s 95 children every day.

There are around 103,000 children in the UK who are looked after away from home. 2

Nearly 70,000 children live with almost 55,000 fostering households across the UK. 3

Wales has the highest rate of looked after children away from home in the UK at 115 per 10,000 of the under 18 population. Scotland is slightly lower at 104 per 10,000, while the rates in Northern Ireland and England are much lower at 80 per 10,000 and 67 per 10,000 respectively. 4

There are currently 2,040 children waiting for adoption in England and 160 children waiting for adoption in Wales.5*

* Equivalent data is not available for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Care Leavers and care-experienced young people

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • 25% of school leavers who were in care during 2019/20 were not in further or higher education, employment, or training 9 months after leaving school, compared to 8% of all school leavers.33
  • 25% of prisoners self-identified as care experienced, with 16% of care experienced prisoners having had more than six different placements whilst in care.34
  • It is estimated that 17% of young people leaving care who are eligible for aftercare go on to make a homeless application.35

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • In 2019/20, there were 537 care leavers aged 16-19 years.63
  • Of care leavers aged 19 years, 73%* are in education, training, or employment, a notable increase from 63% for the previous year (*for whom information was available).64
  • 1 in 7 care leavers aged 19 years have a disability (14%).65

Care leavers and care-experienced young people

  • Over 10,000 young people in England age out of the care system every year on their 18th birthday.18
  • Care leavers make up 25% of the homeless population.19
  • Almost 25% of the adult prison population have previously been in care,20 and nearly 50% of under 21-year-olds in contact with the criminal justice system have spent time in care.21
  • 41% of care leavers aged 19-21 years are not in education, employment, or training (NEET), compared to 12% of all 19- to 21-year-olds.22
  • 7% of care leavers aged 17 years are in accommodation considered to be unsuitable.23

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • In 2019, 54% of care leavers were in education, training, or employment 12 months after leaving care.48
  • Around 20% of homeless people in Wales are care leavers.49
  • 25% of adult prisoners are care experienced.50

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