Statistics

National statistics for fostering and adoption


Statistics

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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Scotland

Overview

Please note: A child classified as ‘looked after’ in Scotland includes all children looked after by a local authority, including some who remain living at home with their parents. Scotland is unique in this compared to the other UK nations. For the purposes of comparison with other UK nations, ‘looked after’ here refers to children looked after away from their home or parents.

  • There are 10,895 looked after children away from home, an increase of 2% from 2019. 19
  • 3,490 children started to be looked after in 2020, a 9% decrease from 2019. 20
  • 13% of looked after children are cared for in residential settings (n=1,436). 21

Fostering

  • Approximately 44% of looked after children live with foster families (n=4,744). 22
  • 41% of looked after children live with kinship carers (n=4,456). 23
  • There are approximately 3,800 foster families in Scotland. 24

Adoption

  • 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

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • 32% of school leavers who were looked after within the last year were not in further or higher education, employment, or training 9 months after leaving school, compared to only 9% of all school leavers. 27
  • 25% of prisoners self-identified as care experienced, with 16% of care experienced prisoners having had more than six different placements whilst in care. 28
  • It is estimated that 17% of young people leaving care who are eligible for aftercare go on to make a homeless application. 29

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