The figures presented below are taken from statistical reports gathered and published by government departments and bodies. Details of sources are provided at the foot of this page.
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70,440 children were in the care of local authorities on 31st March 2016, compared to 69,540 in 2015.
The rate of looked after children per 10,000 under 18 years on 31st March 2016 was 60. This figure varies significantly at Local Authority level from a low of 22 (Wokingham) to a high of 164 (Blackpool).
56% (39,670) of children looked after on 31st March 2016 were male and 44% (30,780) were female.
- 5% (3,540) of children looked after on 31st March 2016 were under 1 year old
- 13% (9,140) were aged between 1 and 4 years old
- 20% (14,090) were aged between 5 and 9 years old
- 39% (27,220) were aged between 10 and 15 years old
- 23% (16,460) were aged 16 and over
- 75% (53,150) of children looked after on 31st March 2016 were white
- 9% (6,250) were of mixed racial background
- 4% (3,110) were Asian or Asian British
- 7% (5,150) were Black or Black British
- 3% (2,290) were from other ethnic groups
- 1% (500) were other (refused or information not yet available)
- 74% (51,850) of children looked after on 31st March 2016 were living with foster carers
- 11% (7,600) were living in secure units, children's homes or hostels
- 5% (3,810) were placed with their parents
- 4% (2,940) were placed for adoption
- 4% (3,040 were with another placement in the community
- 2% (1,200) were placed in residential schools or other residential settings
4,210 unaccompanied asylum seeking children were looked after on 31st March 2016
- 93% (3,900) were male and 7% (310) were female
- 75% (3,170) were aged 16 and over
- 1,560 children were reported to local authorities as being cared for and accommodated in private fostering arrangements at 31st March 2015 (compared to 1,610 in 2014).
- 2,740 new private fostering arrangements began during the year ending 31st March 2015(overall increase from 1,420 in 2007).
- 2,770 private fostering arrangements were reported to have ended during the year ending 31st March 2015 (a steady increase over 9 years, from 1,040 in 2007).
3,310 children had an adoption decision but were not yet placed at 30 September 2015, down from 3,690 at 30 June 2015.
2,060 children had a placement order for adoption but were not yet placed at 30 September 2015, down from 2,510 at 30 June 2015.
48% (1,190) of the children with a placement order waiting to be placed at 30 June 2015 were part of a sibling group compared to 51% (1,420) at 31 March 2015.
Harder to Place
71% (1,750) of the children with a placement order waiting to be placed at 30 June 2015 were considered 'harder to place' compared to 73% (2,050) at 31 March 2015 . This means the child is any of the following: 5 years or over, BME, disabled or part of a sibling group.
71% (3,780) children were placed for adoption within 12 months of an agency decision that the child should be placed for adoption during the year ending 31st March 2015.
The average time between a child entering care and moving in with its adopted family, for those who have been adopted, was 533 days in 2014-15.
4,690 children were adopted from care during the year ending 31st March 2016, compared to 5,360 in 2015.
53% (2,490) of children adopted during the year ending 31st March 2015 were boys and 47% (2,200) were girls.
The average age at adoption in the year ending 31st March 2016 was 3 years 5 months, 2 months older than in 2015.
- 5% (230) of children adopted during the year ending 31st March 2016 were under 1 year old
- 72% (3,370) were aged between 1 and 4 years old
- 22% (1,020) were aged between 5 and 9 years old
- 1% (70) were aged between 10 and 15 years old
- None were aged 16 and over (to nearest 10)
- 83% (3,880) of looked after children adopted during the year ending 31st March 2016 were white
- 11% (490) were of mixed racial background
- 2% (120) were Black or Black British
- 2% (80) were Asian or Asian British
- 1% (40) were from other ethnic groups
- 2% (70) were other (refused or information not yet available)
1,930 (36%) of the 5,330 children adopted during 2014-15 were part of a sibling group
During the year ending 31 March 2015 90% (4,810) of children were adopted by couples and 10% (520) by single adopters.
8.5% (450) of children were adopted by same sex couples (either in a civil partnership, married or neither) in the year ending 31 March 2015. In the previous year before same-sex marriages were introduced, 7% (340) of children were adopted by same sex couples (either in a civil parternship or not).
3,350 approved adopters (from local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies) were waiting to be matched with children at 31 March 2015.
The Department for Education has published additional tables relating to adopter characteristics including age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and disability as well as the marital status of adoptive families. The additional tables can be viewed on the Gov.uk website.
DfE: Children looked after in England (including adoption and care leavers) year ending 31 March 2016
Adoption Leadership Board quarterly data reports: July to September 2015
Ofsted: Adoption agencies data in England year ending 31 March 2014
Notifications of private fostering arrangements in England: Year Ending 31 March 2015
Adoptions in England and Wales, 2012
Children's Social Work Statistics 2012 Edition (Scotland but some data in additional tables covers all countries)