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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Please note: A child who is ‘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, ‘children in care’ in this section refers to children who are looked after away from their home or parents, unless otherwise specified.

  • There are 10,396 children in care in Scotland, a 5% decrease from 2020.30
  • 2,738 children entered the care system in 2021, a decrease of 22% from 2020.31
  • 3,856 children left the care system in 2021, an increase of 16% from 2020.32
  • Just 4% of children ceasing to be looked after had been looked after for under 6 weeks – the lowest this figure has been (since 2003).33
  • 12% of children in care live in residential settings (n=1,286).34


  • Approximately 43% of children in care live with a foster family (n=4,467).35
  • There are approximately 3,540 approved foster care households in Scotland.36
  • 42% of children in care live with kinship carers (n=4,399).37


  • Of children who left care in 2021, 6% went on to be adopted (n=224), a figure which has remained stable since 2011 (6%).38
  • 66% of children adopted were under the age of five.39

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • 29% of school leavers who were in care during 2020/21 were not in further or higher education, employment, or training 9 months after leaving school, compared to 7% of all school leavers.40
  • 25% of prisoners self-identified as care experienced, with 16% of care experienced prisoners having had more than six different placements whilst in care.41
  • It is estimated that 17% of young people leaving care who are eligible for aftercare go on to make a homeless application.42

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