National statistics for fostering and adoption

Why we track national statistics

At Home for Good we are committed to finding a home for every child who needs one through adoption, fostering or supported lodgings. Alongside working ‘bottom-up’ to find homes and mobilising support to wrap around carers, we also work ‘top-down’ help find solutions to the complex challenges the sector faces. Digging deeper into these figures helps us to be more effective. Whether in unpacking the geographical nuances in the data, highlighting racial disparity in the system, or identifying barriers that hinder progress, the numbers matter.

It is of paramount importance we remember that these figures tell stories – thousands of stories – of children waiting too long for the stability, care and love they need. They are not data points or lines on a spreadsheet, but precious children who need loving homes where they can thrive. Everyone has a part they can play. We work with policymakers and politicians, local authorities and agencies, volunteers, churches, individuals and families and we won’t stop. Together we can find a home for every child who needs one.

UK-wide statistics

This year in the UK, around 36,000 children and young people will enter the care system. 1 That’s 100 children every day.

There are around 103,000 children in the UK who are looked after away from home. 2

Wales has the highest rate of looked after children away from home in the UK at 112 per 10,000 of the under 18 population. Scotland is slightly lower at 102 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. 3

A need for homes

Nearly 70,000 children live with over 55,000 fostering households across the UK. (4) There are currently 1990 children waiting for adoption in England and 160 children waiting for adoption in Wales. (5)

Read Katie’s fostering story here. Read Victoria’s adoption story here.

Racial disparity

Black children are disproportionately represented in our care system. While Black children make up 5% of the general population, they make up 7% of the looked after children population. (6) Black children are then less likely to go on to be adopted and wait longer to find their adoptive family. (7)

More on racial disparity.

Caring for teenagers

Children in care are predominantly older with 39% aged 10-15 years and 1 in 4 (25%) aged 16 years and over. (8)

Read our 'Brimming with Potential' report Read Dave’s caring for teenagers story here.

(Reference information is available here.)

Are you using our statistics? Get in touch with our Policy and Research Officer, Sam – [email protected]

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  • There are 82,170 children in the care system in England, an increase of 2% from 2021.9
  • 31,010 children entered the care system in 2022, a 9% increase from 2021.10
  • 30,070 children left the care system in 2022.11
  • 13% of children who left care in 2021 left under a special guardianship order and 10% left through adoption.12
  • Children in care are predominantly older with 39% aged 10-15 years and 25% aged 16 years and over.13
  • During 2021/22, 69% of children in care had one placement in the year, while 10% experienced high instability (3 or more placements).14


  • 70% of children in care live with a foster family (n=57,540).15
  • There are 43,905 fostering households and 61,360 foster carers in England.16


  • In 2022, 2,950 children were adopted, a 2% increase from 2021.17
  • The average age of a child at adoption is 3 years and 3 months.18
  • In 2022, the average time between a child entering care and being placed for adoption was 1 year and 6 months, up from 1 year 4 months last year. It then takes a further 9 months (on average) for an adoption order to be granted and the adoption to be completed.19
  • As of October 2022, there were 1,990 children waiting for adoption. 52% of these children have been waiting 18 months or more.20
  • In 2022, Children aged over 5, male, from an Ethnic Minority (excludes White minorities) background, with a disability and in a sibling group were more likely to be waiting with a PO and less likely to be adopted.21

Care leavers and care-experienced young people

  • Over 10,000 young people in England age out of the care system every year on their 18th birthday.22
  • Care leavers make up 25% of the homeless population.23
  • Almost 25% of the adult prison population have previously been in care,24 and nearly 50% of under 21-year-olds in contact with the criminal justice system have spent time in care.25
  • 7% of care leavers aged 17 years; 4% of care leavers aged 18 years and 6% of care leavers aged 19-21 are in accommodation considered to be unsuitable.26
  • 41% of care leavers aged 19-21 years are not in education, employment, or training (NEET), compared to 12% of all 19- to 21-year-olds.27
  • Just 13% of care leavers enter HE by their 19th birthday, compared to 45% of the wider population.28 Care-experienced applicants are 179% more likely to apply for health and social care than non-care-experienced students, and 50% more likely to apply for nursing and midwifery.29

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