National statistics for fostering and adoption


This year in the UK, around 35,000 children and young people will enter the care system. 1 That’s 95 children every day.

There are around 103,000 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 115 per 10,000 of the under 18 population. Scotland is slightly lower at 104 per 10,000, while the rates in Northern Ireland and England are much lower at 80 per 10,000 and 67 per 10,000 respectively. 4

There are currently 2,040 children waiting for adoption in England and 160 children waiting for adoption in Wales.5*

* Equivalent data is not available for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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  • There are an estimated 5.4 million children living in orphanages around the world.66
  • On average, 80% of children living in orphanages have at least one living parent.67
  • Research shows that poverty, rather than abuse or neglect, is the main driver causing parents to relinquish their children to orphanages.68
  • Over 80 years of research shows that institutional care has detrimental effects on children’s physical, cognitive, social, and psychological development.69
  • In 2018, regular churchgoers were 7 times more likely than British adults overall to say that they were actively involved with visiting or volunteering in overseas orphanages (7% vs. 1%).70
  • In 2019, 44% of practicing Christians said that they had financially supported an overseas residential care facility in the past 12 months.71

For more information on how to support vulnerable children overseas, please visit our Homecoming project website.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC)

  • In 2019, around 9,000 unaccompanied and separated children arrived in Europe.72
  • As of 27 July 2020, 480 UASC have been transferred to the UK from France, Greece, and Italy under the ‘Dubs amendment’ (Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016).73
  • A further 416 children were resettled under the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) in the year ending March 2020, bringing the total to 1,826 since the scheme began in 2016.74
  • UASC make up 5% of children in care in England.75
  • 92% of UASC are male and 87% are aged 16 years and over.76

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