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.

Looked After Children
  Legal Status
  Adoptions from Care
  Waiting Times
  Types of Adopters 
  Adopter Characteristics


On 31st March 2017:

  • 2,983 children in the care of local authorities
  • 68.5 - the rate of looked after children per 10,000 under 18 years

Duration in Care

  • 2,272 children and young people had been looked after continuously for 12 months or longer


On 31st March 2017:

  • 78% (2,334) of children looked after were living with foster carers - of which 1,297 in non-kinship foster care, and 1,037 in kinship foster care
  • 12% (364) were placed with parent
  • 5% (164) were living in residential care
  • 4% (121) were living in other types of placements.

Legal Status

On 31st March 2017:

  • 1,833 (61%) children looked after under care orders (Article 50 or 59)
  • 666 (22%) children looked after were accommodated Article 21
  • 413 (14%) children looked after under interim care orders (Article 57)


On 30th September 2016:

  • 25% of looked after children of school age have a status of Special Educational Needs (compared with 5% of the general school population)


Adoptions from Care

120 looked after children were adopted in the year ending 31st March 2017 (the highest number since 2003 and an increase of 31 on the previous year)

Waiting times

For children adopted in 2016/17, the average length of time between the date the child's last period of care started to the Adoption Order was made was 3 years 0 months.

Types of Adopters

During year ending 31 March 2017:

  • 56% (67) of children adopted from care were adopted by dual approved carers
  • 19% (23) of children adopted from care were adopted by concurrent carers
  • 15% (18) of children adopted from care were adopted by former foster carers
  • 10% (12) of children adopted from care were adopted by dual approved carers

Adopter Characteristics

During year ending 31 March 2017:

  • 97% of adopters were married couples.
  • Of all the adopters, 13% had previously adopted a child or children (compared to 7% in previous year), and 14% had dependent birth children in the household.
  • The age of the adopters ranged from early thirties to mid-sixties, with the majority of the adopters being in their forties at the time of the adoption (60%).



Department of Health: Children's Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2016-17 (previously Children Order Statistics)

The children's social care statistics for Northern Ireland include sections on children in need, child protection, children's residential homes, children's day care and looked after children. The data on looked after children includes total numbers and breakdowns by HSC Trust, gender, age, disability, religion and ethnicity, legal status, placement type, duration in care, admissions to and discharges from care and episodes of respite care.  There is also a UK adoption statistics comparison.

Department of Health:  Children Adopted from Care in Northern Ireland 2016-17 - Revised

The children adopted from care statistics for Northern Ireland include data on overall numbers of children adopted from care, the timing of the adoption process (duration of final period of care, durations between different stages of the adoption process, average ages of children at each stage of adoption process), the adoption process by age group, foster care adoptions and a UK adoption statistics comparison. 

Department of Health: Children in Care in Northern Ireland 2015-16

The children in care in Northern Ireland statistics (1 October 2015 to 31 September 2016) include data on children in care continuously for 12 months or longer. The data on looked after children includes age and gender, religion and ethnicity, disability and dependants, health, placement changes. The report also covers pre-school provision, school age looked after children, educational attainment, cautions and convictions and children who finished compulsory schooling in 2015/16.