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Number of children looked after under s 20 agreements has risen to nearly 20,000

Number of looked after children at highest since 1985

The number of children in England looked after under a voluntary agreement under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 rose to 19,850 in 2015. The figure, as at 31 March 2015, represented 29% of looked after children. The number at 31 March 2014 was 19,230 (28%) and marked the first percentage increase since 2010.

The number of looked after children has increased steadily over the past seven years. There were 69,540 looked after children at 31 March 2015, an increase of 1% compared to 31 March 2014 and an increase of 6% compared to 31 March 2011. The number of looked after children is higher than at any time since 1985.

Of those, 42,030 (60%) children were looked after under a care order (either an interim or full care order), a 5% increase compared to 2014 and an 8% increase since 2011.

The majority of children looked after are placed with foster carers. In 2015 the number of children in foster care continued to rise; of the 69,540 children looked after at 31 March, 52,050 (75%) were cared for in a foster placement.

There has been a drop in the number of children looked after with a placement order at 31 March 2015, from 9,580 (14% of looked after children) in 2014 to 7,320 (11%) in 2015. This is in line with quarterly adoptions data collected by the Adoption Leadership Board, which has indicated that since Quarter 2 2013-14, numbers of Adoption Decision Maker decisions for adoption and numbers of adoption placement orders granted have decreased. The National Adoption Leadership Board has linked this trend to the impact of Re B [2013] UKSC 33 and Re B-S [2013] EWCA Civ 1146.

The latest statistics, both national and local, can be found here.