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Foster Care Statistics

The Fostering Network has a mandate to create a better future for everyone who is fostered. They lobby for improved child welfare, education and training, and regulations regarding adoption and foster care. The statistics the Network provides show that on a daily basis there are more than 68,000 children living with nearly 50,000 foster families across the UK. These children comprise almost 72% of the 95,000 children who are in care away from home on any one day in the UK.*

During the course of 12 months up to 31 March 2019, about 30,000 children entered into care with similar numbers leaving the system. Those who leave do so for a variety of reasons. Some return to their own homes or go to live with a relative, some age out of the care system, some are subjected to a residence or special guardianship order, and some are adopted.

A Look at England’s Statistics

Statistical reports gathered and published by government departments and bodies for England provide statistics for the entire UK, breaking down the statistics into England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. On 31 March 2019, there were 56,150 children in England living with foster families comprising 72% of the 75,420 children in care at that time who were looked after away from home.

In the year leading up to 31 March 2019, there were a total of approximately 78,150 in care (this could be across fostering or residential settings). This is approximately 1% of all children in England under the age of 18 and an increase of 2% from the previous year. Two-thirds of the placements were made through local authorities with independent fostering agencies such as Capstone Foster Care making the remainder of the placements.

There was an increase of 4% in the number of children in care in 2018-19 which had been the trend over the past few years. The rate of increase did slow down each year and more of the placements were made by independent fostering agencies although the majority of the placements continued to be made by local authorities.

Currently there are about 44,450 foster families in England and an active need for 7,220 more foster families.

Foster Care Analysis

Information from statistical reports from government entities for children in public care in England during the period ending 31 March 2019 provides insight into the support and resources available as well as the children’s needs for a safe family situation.

Looking at the 78,150 children in the care of local authorities on 31st March 2019, 56% were boys. The majority (39%) were between 10 and 15 years old, 24% were 16 or over and 18% were between 5 and 9 years old. Of the rest, 5% were under a year old and 13% were between 1 and 4 years old.


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Ethnically, 74% were white, 10% were of mixed racial background, 8% were Black or Black British, 8% were from other ethnic groups.

72% of the children and young people were living with foster carers, 12% were living in secure units, children’s homes or hostels, and 7% were placed with their parents. 3% were placed for adoption and 4% living independently or in residential employment.

The brief statistical overview of part of the foster care system indicates that there is a national foster care crisis and a deep social need for people to consider foster care. If you are interested in fostering or have questions, contact Capstone Foster Care for further information on 0800 012 4004 or simply click here.

*Comprised of 78,150 in England (2019 data), 3,281 in NI (2019 data), 6,817 in Scotland (2018 data), 6,845 in  Wales (2019 data).

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