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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Please note:  A child who is ‘looked after’ in Scotland includes all children looked after by a local authority, including some who remain living at home with their parents. Scotland is unique in this compared to the other UK nations.
For the purposes of comparison with other UK nations, ‘children in care’ in this section refers to children who are looked after away from their home or parents, unless otherwise specified.

  • There are 9,959 children in care in Scotland, a 4% decrease from 2021 and a 10% decrease since 2012.36
  • 2,909 children entered the care system in 2022, a 1% increase from 2021 and a 40% decrease since 2012.37
  • 3,550 children left the care system in 2022, a decrease of 11% from 2021 and a decrease of 26% since 2012.38
  • 6% of children ceasing to be looked after had been looked after for under 6 weeks.39
  • 13% of children in care live in residential setting (n=1,284).40


  • Approximately 42% of children in care live with a foster family (n=4,155).41
  • There are approximately 3,261 approved foster care households in Scotland. This is a 5% decrease from 2021 and a 13% decrease since 2018.42
  • 43% of children in care live with kinship carers (n=4249).43


  • 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

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • 30% of school leavers who were in care during 2021/22 were not in further or higher education, employment, or training 9months after leaving school, compared to 7% of all school leavers.48
  • 25% of prisoners self-identified as care experienced, with 16% of care experienced prisoners having had more than six different placements whilst in care.49
  • It is estimated that 17% of young people leaving care who are eligible for aftercare go on to make a homeless application.50
  • 5% of all homeless households with a household member under the age of 25 contain a member under 25 that has been looked after by their local authority as a child.51

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