ENGLAND

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.

On this page:

Looked After Children
  Placements
  Foster Placements
  Legal Status
Adoption and Special Guardianship
  Adoptions from Care
  Awaiting Adoption
  Waiting Times
  Adopter Characteristics
  Special Guardianship
Sources

LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN

On 31 March 2021:

  • 80,850 children were in the care of local authorities, up 1% on 31 March 2020
  • the rate of looked after children per 10,000 children under 18 years was 67 (same as 2020, up from 65 in 2019 and 64 in 2018)

Placements

On 31 March 2021: 

  • 71% (57,330) of children looked after were living with foster carers (16% in a foster placement with a relative or a friend, 56% with a foster carer who is not a relative or a friend)
  • 14% (11,550) were living in secure units, children's homes or semi-independent living
  • 7% (5,910) were placed with their parents
  • 3% (2,270) were placed for adoption
  • 2% (1,860) were living independently or in residential employment

70% of looked after children had one placement in the year, 21% had two placements, and 9% had three or more placements

Foster Placements

On 31 March 2021, of the 57,330 children in foster placements:

  • 34,380 (43%) were placed inside the council boundary
  • 12430 (16%) were being fostered by a relative or friend
  • 470 (0.8%) were in placements where the carer is also an approved adopter (fostering for adoption) or where they were subject to concurrent planning

Legal Status

On 31 March 2021:

  • 63,530 (79%) children looked after under care orders
  • 12,340 (15%) children looked after under voluntary agreements under Section 20 of Children's Act 1989
  • 4,660 (6%) children looked after had a placement order granted

ADOPTION AND SPECIAL GUARDIANSHIP

Adoptions from Care

2,870 looked after children were adopted during the year ending 31 March 2021

Awaiting Adoption

3,600 children had an adoption best interest decision but were not yet placed at 31 March 2021

2,180 children had a placement order but were not yet placed at 31 March 2021

Waiting Times

494 - the average number of days between a child entering care and moving in with its adoptive family during the year 2020-21 (Adoption scorecard indicator A1)

206 - the average number of days between an LA receiving court authority to place a child and the LA deciding on a match to an adoptive family during the year 2020-21 (Adoption scorecard indicator A2)

Adopter Characteristics

During year ending 31 March 2021:

  • 89% (2,550) of children were adopted by couples and 11% (310) by single adopters.
  • 16% (470) of children were adopted by same sex couples (either in a civil partnership, married or neither).

Special Guardianship

During year ending 31 March 2021:

  • 3,800 children left care through a Special Guardianship Order
  • 74% (2,810) Special Guardianship Orders were made to former foster carers, with 64% (2,440) made to former foster carers who were/are a relative or friend.

 


SOURCES

Department for Education: Children looked after in England including adoption: 2020 to 2021

The Department for Education Children looked after in England statistics include tables providing a breakdown of children in care by age, gender, ethnicity, legal status, reason for being in care, reasons for placement changes for children who moved placement in the year, fostering for adoption and concurrent planning, special guardianship, duration of latest period of care, adoption placements and care leavers activities, accommodation, children looked after who were missing, offending and substance misuse by looked after children, development, health, emotional health

ASGLB: Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board quarterly data reports: 2020 to 2021

The Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board data reports on how local authority adoption agencies and voluntary adoption agencies are performing. Data covers children waiting for adoption, progress through the adoption process, characteristics of children waiting, characteristics of children adopted, child timeliness, adoptive families progress through the adoption process, prospective adopters waiting and adopter timeliness.