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]

To filter our statistics please select from the categories below:



  • There are 83,840 children in the care system in England, an increase of 2% from 2022 and a 23% increase from 2013.10
  • 33,000 children entered the care system in 2023, a 6% increase from 2022 and an increase of 14% from 2013.11
  • 31,680 children left the care system in 2023. This is an increase of 5% from 2022 and an increase of 11% from 2013.12
  • 12% of children who left care in 2023 left under a special guardianship order and 9% left through adoption. There has been a 2% decrease in the number of children adopted compared to 2022.13
  • Children in care are predominantly older with 38% aged 10-15 years and 26% aged 16 years and over.14
  • During 2022/23, 69% of children in care had one placement in the year, while 10% experienced high instability (3 or more placements).15
  • 21% of children in care are placed over 20 miles from their home area.16


  • 68% of children in care live with a foster family (n=57,020) this has decreased 2% since 2022.17
  • There are 43,405 fostering households in England. This is a 1% decrease since 2022 and a 2% decrease since 2019.18
  • At the end of March 2023 there were 3,805 new approved fostering households.19
  • There are now 59,308 approved foster cares in England. This is a 3% decrease since 2022 and an 8% decrease since 2019.20


  • 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

Care leavers and care-experienced young people

  • In 2023 12,200 young people in England aged out of the care system on their 18th Birthday. This has increased by 2% since 2022, and increased by 7% since 2019.26
  • The number of care leavers aged 18-25 facing homelessness in 2022/23 has risen to 3,710, a 9% increase from the previous year (n=3,390).27
  • Care leavers make up 25% of the adult homeless population.28
  • Almost 25% of the adult prison population have previously been in care,29 and nearly 50% of under 21-year-olds in contact with the criminal justice system have spent time in care.30
  • Looked-after children are more at risk of interacting with the criminal justice system in early adulthood than their peers. Among looked-after children 52% were convicted of a criminal offence by the academic year they turned the age of 24, compared to 13% of children who had not experienced care.31
  • 8% of care leavers aged 17 years; 3% of care leavers aged 18 years and 6% of care leavers aged 19-21 are in accommodation considered to be unsuitable.32
  • 38% of care leavers aged 19-21 years are not in education, employment, or training (NEET), compared to 13% of all 19- to 21-year-olds. The number of care leavers aged 19-21 who are not in education, employment, or training has decreased by 3% since 2022.33
  • Just 14% of care leavers enter HE by their 19th birthday, compared to 47% of the wider population.34
  • Care-experienced applicants are 179% more likely to apply for health and social care degrees than non-care-experienced students, and 50% more likely to apply for nursing and midwifery.35

I would like to find out what is
going on in my area

Join our mailing list for the latest Home for Good news and ways to get involved.

Together we can find a home for every child who needs one.

Other amount
Other amount

£25 per month could help us create and collate inspiring articles and blogs that encourage and inform the families and communities who care for vulnerable children