Fostering statistics

Over 70,000 children live with almost 56,000 foster families across the UK each day. This is nearly three-quarters of the 97,000 children in care away from home on any one day in the UK.

Every year thousands of new foster families are needed.

The statistics below provide a picture of the care system on just one day of the year. Around 30,000 more children come into care over the course of 12 months, with similar numbers leaving the care system to return home, move in with another family member, live with new adoptive families, become subject to a special guardianship or residence order or move on to adult life.
 

England

  • 57,380 children were living with foster families on 31 March 2021.
  • This is 71 per cent of the 80,850 children in care looked after away from home.
  • There are around 45,370 foster families in England.
  • Every year thousands of new foster families are needed in England.
     

Northern Ireland

  • 2,857 children were living with foster families on 31 March 2021.
  • This is 81 per cent of the 3,530 children in care looked after away from home.
  • There are approximately 2,800 foster families in Northern Ireland, and there is always a need for more foster families.
     
For more details see the Department of Health website.
 

Scotland

  • Approx. 4,500 children were living with foster families on 31 July 2021.
  • This is roughly three-quarters of children in care looked after away from home and family.
  • There are approximately 3,540 approved foster care households in Scotland.
  • Every year hundreds of new foster families are needed in Scotland.
     
For more details, see the Scottish Government website and the Care Inspectorates' website.
 

Wales

  • 5,070 children were living with foster families on 31 March 2021.
  • This is 70 per cent of the 7,265 children in care looked after away from home.
  • There are approximately 3,800 foster families in Wales.
  • Every year hundreds of new foster families are needed in Wales.
     

For more details see the Welsh Government website.

 

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