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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  • There are 7,208 children in care in Wales, a increase of 2% (n=155) since 2022.52
  • 1,903 children entered the care system in 2022/23, an increase of 12% (n=7211) from the previous year.53
  • 1,758 children left the care system during 2022/23, a decrease of 6% (n=107) from the previous year.54
  • 22% of children in care are aged 5-9 years, 40% are aged 10-15 years, and 19% are aged 16 and over.55
  • There has been a gradual decline in the percentage of children looked after in foster care placements, from a high of 79% on 31 March 2011 to 69% on 31 March 2023.56
  • 9% of children in care had three or more placements during 2022/23.57
  • 34% of children who are in placements outside of their home were placed outside of their local authority, this is a 7% increase from the previous year. 7% were placed outside of Wales which is a 1% increase from 2021/22.58


  • 69% of children in care live with a foster family (n=4,955).59
  • There are approximately, 3,800 foster families in Wales.60
  • 10% of young people who left care having turned 18 in 2021/22 continued to live with their former foster parents under ‘When I am Ready’ arrangements.61


  • 243 children were adopted from care in 2022/23, a decrease of 14% (n=283) from the previous year.62
  • The number of children adopted from care had been decreasing in recent years from a high of 385 children adopted during 2014-15.63
  • The average age of a child at adoption is 3 years and 5 months.64
  • In 2022, the average length of time for children from entry into care to adoption was 2 years and 6 months.65

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • In 2019, 54% of care leavers were in education, training, or employment 12 months after leaving care.66
  • Around 20% of homeless people in Wales are care leavers.67
  • 25% of adult prisoners are care experienced.68

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