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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  • 6,400 children are classified as looked after, an increase of 8% from the previous year.
  • 10% of looked after children had three or more placements over the past year.


  • 74% of looked after children are accommodated in foster care placements.
  • It is estimated that fostering services need to recruit a further 550 foster families.


  • 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.

Ethnicity of looked after children

  • 92% White
  • 3% Mixed Ethnicity
  • 2% Asian or Asian British
  • 1% Black or Black British
  • 1% Other

Reason for becoming looked-after

  • 64% Abuse or neglect
  • 24% Family in acute stress or dysfunction
  • 7% Parental illness, disability or absence
  • 4% Socially unacceptable behaviour
  • 2% Other

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • 51% of care leavers are in education, training or employment at 12 months after leaving care.
  • Between 20-30% of the young homeless population are care experienced.
  • 23% of children leaving care aged 16 or over have no formal qualifications, vocational or otherwise.
  • 25% of adult prisoners are care experienced and 14% of young women leaving care are pregnant or already a Mother.

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