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:


Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC)

  • In 2020, worldwide, 21,000 children applied for asylum having arrived in the country of refuge alone, with no parent or guardian. 94
  • In the year ending September 2023, the UK received 4,656 applications for asylum from unaccompanied children, this was 16% less than in the year ending September 2022.95
  • As of 31 March 2023, there are 7,290 UASC in care in England, an increase of 29% since 2022, and 37% since 2021. This also means a 42% increase upon the 2019 pre-pandemic figure.96
  • UASC make up 9% of children in care in England, this has seen an increase of 2% since last year.97
  • 96% of UASC are maleand 86% are aged 16 years and over (in England).98


  • There are an estimated 5.4 million children living in orphanages around the world.88
  • On average, 80% of children living in orphanages have at least one living parent.89
  • Research shows that poverty, rather than abuse or neglect, is the main driver causing parents to relinquish their children to orphanages.90
  • Over 80 years of research shows that institutional care has detrimental effects on children’s physical, cognitive, social, and psychological development.91
  • In 2018, regular churchgoers were 7 times more likely than British adults overall to say that they were actively involved with visiting or volunteering in overseas orphanages (7% vs. 1%).92
  • In 2019, 44% of practicing Christians said that they had financially supported an overseas residential care facility in the past 12 months.93

For more information on how to support vulnerable children overseas, please visit our Homecoming project website.

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