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 7,080 children in care in Wales, a decrease of 2% (n=167) 2021.43
  • 1,691 children entered the care system in 2021/22, a decrease of 4% (n=71) from the previous year.44
  • 1,839 children left the care system during 2021/22, an increase of 9% from the previous year.45
  • 23% of children in care are aged 5-9 years, 39% are aged 10-15 years, and 17% are aged 16 and over.46
  • There has been a gradual decline in the percentage of children looked after in foster care placements, from a high of 79% on 31 March 2011 to 69% on 31 March 2022.47
  • 9% of children in care had three or more placements during 2021/22.48
  • For the first time since 2014-15, more children left care than started to be looked after during 2021/22.49


    • 69% of children in care live with a foster family (n=4,915).50
    • There has been a gradual decline in the percentage of children looked after in foster care from a high of 79% on 31 March 2011.51
    • There are approximately, 3,800 foster families in Wales. 52


  • 283 children were adopted from care in 2021/22, an increase of 4% from the previous year.53
  • The number of children adopted from care had been decreasing in recent years from a high of 385 children adopted during 2014-15.54
  • The average age of a child at adoption is 3 years and 4 months. 55
  • In 2022, the average length of time for children from entry into care to adoption was 2 years and 6 months.56

Care leavers and care experienced young people

  • In 2019, 54% of care leavers were in education, training, or employment 12 months after leaving care.57
  • Around 20% of homeless people in Wales are care leavers.58
  • 25% of adult prisoners are care experienced.59

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