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 95,000 children in the UK who are classified as looked-after away from home. An increase of 3% 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.

At 30 September 2018, there were 2730 children waiting for adoption in England. 41% of these had been waiting eighteen months or more.

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  • 3,820 children were adopted last year, a 13% decrease from the previous year.
  • The average age of adoption is 3 years and 3 months.
  • The number of looked after children with a placement order for adoption has fallen by 44% since 2014.


  • Of children who cease to be looked after, around 7% go on to be adopted.
  • 68% of children who are adopted are under the age of five.
  • At 31 March 2019, there were 151 children and 125 adopters waiting to be matched on Scotland’s Adoption Register.


  • 308 children were adopted in 2017-18.
  • 8% of children were adopted by their former foster carer, a proportion that has fallen steadily over the past ten years.
  • As of 31 March 2018, 350 children subject to a placement order were waiting to be matched with a family.


  • 11% of those leaving care are adopted.7
  • Children wait on average, 3 years 2 months to be adopted.8
  • 9% of those leaving care go to live with their former foster carers via the ‘Going the Extra Mile’ (GEM) Scheme.9

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