National statistics for fostering and adoption


This year in the UK, over 37,000 children and young people will enter the care system. 1 That’s 102 every day.

There are around 101,500 children in the UK who are looked after away from home. 2

Nearly 70,000 children live with almost 55,000 fostering households across the UK. 3

Wales has the highest rate of looked after children away from home in the UK at 114 per 10,000 under 18 population. Scotland is slightly lower at 104 per 10,000, while the rates in Northern Ireland and England are much lower at 77 per 10,000 and 67 per 10,000 respectively. 4

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  • Of children who ceased to be looked after in 2020, 6% went on to be adopted (n=192), a 1% decrease from the previous year. 25
  • 73% of children adopted were under the age of five. 26


  • 297 children were adopted in 2019/20, a 4% decrease from the previous year. 36
  • The average age of children adopted during 2019/20 was 3 years old. 37
  • On 31 March 2020, 270 children were waiting to be matched or placed with a new family, a decrease of 20% from the previous year. 38


  • 111 children were adopted from care during 2019/20, an increase of 52% from last year. 48
  • The average age of children at the time of adoption was 4 years 2 months. 49
  • Children wait on average 3 years and 1 month to be adopted. 50
  • 33% of children who were adopted were aged 5-15 years. 51


  • 3,440 children ceased to be looked after due to adoption, a 4% decrease from 2019. 11
  • The average age of a child at adoption is 3 years old. 12
  • As of September 2020, there were 2,030 children waiting for adoption. 52% of these children had been waiting 18 months or more. 13

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