National statistics for fostering and adoption

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This year in the UK, 40,000 children and young people will enter the care system. That’s 109 every day.

There are currently around 92,000 children in the UK who are classified as looked-after away from home. An increase of 2% from the previous year.

More than 65,000 children live with almost 55,000 foster families across the UK.

The UK urgently needs 8,100 more foster families to meet the need.

As of March 2017, there were 2580 children waiting for adoption in England. 28% of these had been waiting over a year.

Children and families in England who have been waiting longer than three months join the Adoption Register. Currently there are almost three times as many children (1115) on the Adoption Register as families (412).

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Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • 43% of care leavers aged 19 are known to be NEET*.10
  • Between 20-30% of the young homeless population are care experienced.11
  • 23% of children leaving care aged 16 or over have no formal qualifications, vocational or otherwise.12

Reason for becoming looked-after

  • 62% - Abuse or neglect
  • 27% - Family in acute stress or dysfunction
  • 6% - Parental illness, disability or absence
  • 3% - Socially unacceptable behaviour
  • 1% - Other

Ethnicity of looked after children

  • 92% - White
  • 1.4% - Black or Black British
  • 1.6% - Asian or Asian British
  • 3.5% - Mixed Ethnicity
  • 1% - Other


  • 74% of looked after children are accommodated in foster care placements.3
  • It is estimated that fostering services need to recruit a further 550 foster families.4


  • 312 children were adopted over the previous year – an 8% decrease on the previous year.5
  • 8% of looked after children were adopted by their former foster carer.6
  • As of 31 March 2018, 350 children subject to a placement order were waiting to be matched with a family.7


  • 6,000 children are classified as looked after, an increase of 5% from the previous year.1
  • 10% of looked after children had three or more placements over the past year.2

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