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Number of children in care rises as adoptions fall

DfE statistics released for year to 31 March 2019

The number of children looked after in England is up 4 per cent to 78,150 at 31 March 2019. This continues the increases seen in recent years. Children ceasing to be looked after during the year as a result of adoption fell by 7 per cent to 3,570. This continues the drop seen last year.

The figures are included in statistics released by the Department for Education for looked after children in England in the year up to 31 March 2019. 

The number of children looked after in England is equivalent to a rate of 65 children per 10,000 – up from 64 per 10,000 in 2018 and 60 per 10,000 in 2015.

Just over half of this number are male (56 per cent); similar to 2018. The largest age group (39 per cent) are aged 10-15 years; 24 per cent are aged 16 years and over; 18 per cent are aged 5-9 years, 13 per cent are aged 1-4 years and 5 per cent are aged under 1 year. Over the last 5 years the average age of children looked after has been steadily increasing.

The number of children starting to be looked after during the year is down 2 per cent to 31,680.

There are a range of reasons why a child is looked after including being looked after:

Most children looked after are placed in foster placements (72 per cent); 13 per cent of such children being placed in a foster placement with a relative or friend and 58 per cent being placed with a foster carer who is not a relative or friend.

The number of children ceasing to be looked after during the year is down 2 per cent to 29,460 after a period of gradual increases and a high of 31,860 in 2016.

Reasons for ceasing to be looked after include:

Children ceasing to be looked after during the year due to adoption fell by 7 per cent to 3,570. This continues the drop seen last year and is down from a peak of 5,360 in 2015.

The average time between entry into care and adoption is 1 year and 11 months, the same as 2018 and down from 2 years and 3 months in 2015 and 2016. The reduction has been at two stages as:

The average time from entry to care and adoption varies by the age of the child at the start of the period of care with older children tending to wait slightly longer. The average (mean) age on starting the final period of care is 1 year and 2 months; the average (mean) age at adoption is 3 years and 1 month.

The duration of the final period of care for children adopted was less than 2 years for 66 per cent of children, compared to 52 per cent in 2015.

For the full statistics, click here. For tables showing the figures organised by various criteria, for example local authority, click here.

6/12/19