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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  • On 31 March 2020, there were 7,172 looked after children, an increase of 5% (n=338) from the previous year. 30
  • 1,967 children started to be looked after in 2019/20, a decrease of 7% from the previous year. 31
  • 37% of looked after children were aged 10-15 years, but the highest rate of children looked after by age was for those over 16 years old. 32
  • Over the past 5 years, there has been a 60% rise in looked after children being placed with kinship carers. 33


  • 70% of looked after children live with foster families (n=4,989). 34
  • There are approximately 3,700 foster families in Wales. 35


  • 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

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • In 2019, 54% of care leavers were in education, training, or employment at 12 months after leaving care. 39
  • Around 20% of homeless people in Wales are care leavers. 40
  • 25% of adult prisoners are care experienced. 41

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