Fostering children and the latest statistics for the UK

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Fostering children and the latest statistics for the UK

Fostering statistics for 2020

Fostering facts for 2020

Fostering service providers will be looking keenly at the statistics describing the key trends. This is the latest data provided by the government and was published on the 10th of December 2020. It will be updated on the 1st of December 2021. Most of this data relates to before coronavirus but there could be a small effect on these figures due to the impact the pandemic had on social work practice in the second half of March 2020.

Fostering: the main facts and figures for 2020.

  • 80,080 looked after children on 31st March 2020 – an increase of 2% on the previous year;
  • 3,440 the number of looked after children who were adopted – down 4% on the previous year;
  • 30,970 children starting to be looked after year the ending 31st March 2020 – down 3% on the previous year;
  • 29,590 children no longer being looked after the year ending 31st March 2020 – similar to the previous year;
  • 67 – the rate per 10,000 children under 18 years of age: looked after children on 31st March 2020 – an increase from 65 per 10,000 in the previous year.

A snapshot for 31st March 2020.

In broad terms, over 65,000 children are living with around 55,000 fostering families each day in the United Kingdom. Approximately 30,000 more children enter the care system over the course of 12 months – with similar numbers leaving the system to: 

  1. return home, 
  2. move in with another family member, 
  3. live with new adoptive families, 
  4. become subject to a special guardianship or residence order
  5. move on to adult life.

In England, there were 57,380 children living with fostering families on 31st March 2020. And this represents 72% of the 80,080 children in care being looked after away from their home. In Scotland, there were 4,800 children living worth fostering families on 31st July 2019. And this is approximately three-quarters of children in care looked after away from home. In Wales, there were 4,870 children living with fostering families on 31st March 2019. And this is 71% of the 6,845 children in care looked after away from home. In Northern Ireland, there were 2,673 children living with fostering families on 31st March 2020. And this is 79% of the 3,383 children in care looked after away from home.

Each year thousands of new fostering families need to be recruited England. For Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hundreds will be needed. 

Figures for former care leavers.

When young people leave care the statistics that relate to their future activities are of paramount importance. These provide a measurement in terms of outcomes and are an important indicator as regards the efficacy of the care system. In the 17-year-old category, there were 480 care leavers in 2020. Fifty-nine per cent were male with forty-one per cent being female. And of these care leavers – including those from fostering backgrounds.

  • 12% were in employment or training;
  • 37% were in education;
  • 27% were NEETs (not in education, employment or training)
  • no information was available for 24% of this group.

In the 18-year-old category, there were 11,220 care leavers in 2020. Sixty-four per cent were male with thirty-six per cent being female. And of these care leavers – including those from fostering backgrounds –

  • 17% were in employment or training;
  • 48% were in education;
  • 31% were NEETs;
  • information was unavailable for 5%.

In the 19 – 21year-old category, there were 31,260 care leavers in 2020. Sixty-one per cent were male with thirty-nine per cent being female. And of these:

  • 26% were in employment or training;
  • 6% were in higher education;
  • 20% were in other education;
  • 39% were NEET – and this compared with approximately thirteen per cent of all young people in this age category;
  • information was unavailable for 9%.

Diagram: the proportion of care leavers now aged 19-21 years old by activity in England.

2018 to 2020.


The statistics for fostering 2021 will be likely to have been significantly influenced by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. These will have played out across lockdowns and restrictions which have seen school and educational institutions closed. The statistic that remains particularly stubbornly fixed is that for the 19 – 21-year-old category showing only 6% being in higher education. 

Our Rainbow Fostering family is looking for new foster carers.

We are entering our third decade of fostering and continue to pride ourselves on the high-quality support offered our foster carers. Rainbow Fostering works alongside local authorities across London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire providing well-matched placements. Rainbow has been rated ‘Outstanding in all areas’ by Ofsted. We have now streamlined our application process to continue recruiting new foster carers through the lockdown. Our initial ‘home visits’ are held over Skype – easy to set up in a matter of minutes. One of our friendly team members will guide you. 

You can be Approved to foster within 16 – 18 weeks and start making a much-needed difference for vulnerable children. Fostering is open to people who are (over 21) married, divorced, single or cohabiting. You can provide care whatever your sexual orientation, ethnicity or cultural background. There is no upper age limit to being a foster carer.

Fostering is something some people find to be incredibly rewarding. Many children coming into care exhibit particular emotional and behavioural needs. They may have suffered trauma,  abuse or neglect. Security and stability may be unknown to them making them mistrustful. They may have had several homes or experiences frequent and chaotic moves. Foster carers – perhaps you – can make the difference enabling a child to overcome past negative experiences and start to flourish.

Call us today on 0330 311 2845 today. Our children need warm, welcoming, nurturing and supportive foster homes – perhaps you could provide one!

And today’s recommended blog can be found at

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Please remember, all our contact details and regional office locations can be found via the link below. If you prefer, you can leave your contact details on our website and arrange for a member of our team to call you later at a time to suit you. We very much look forward to hearing from you! 

Everyone remember Hands, Face, Space – protect the NHS.

Rainbow putting the focus on fostering.

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