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 7,263 children in care in Wales, an increase of 2% (n=113) from 2020.36
  • 1,747 children entered the care system in 2020/21, a decrease of 12% from the previous year.37
  • 1,657 children left the care system during 2020/21, a decrease of 1% from the previous year.38
  • 23% of children in care are aged 5-9 years, 38% are aged 10-15 years, and 16% are aged 16 and over.39
  • Over the past 5 years, there has been a 59% increase in the number of children in care who are placed with kinship carers.40
  • 7% of children in care had three or more placements during 2020/21.41


  • 70% of children in care live with a foster family (n=5,072).42
  • There are approximately 3,700 foster families in Wales.43


  • 266 children were adopted from care in 2020/21, a decrease of 11% from the previous year.44
  • The average age of a child at adoption is 3 years and 1 month.45
  • In 2021, the average length of time for children from entry into care to adoption was 2 years and 4 months.46
  • At 31 March 2021, just over 160 children were waiting for their adoptive family, a decrease of 20% from the previous year.47

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • In 2019, 54% of care leavers were in education, training, or employment 12 months after leaving care.48
  • Around 20% of homeless people in Wales are care leavers.49
  • 25% of adult prisoners are care experienced.50

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