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Number of looked after children at all-time high

In the year ending 31 March 2021 there were 80,850 looked after children. This is an increase of 1 per cent on the figure in 2020 and represents an all-time high.

There were 67 looked after children per 10,000 children. This is the same proportion as in 2020 and the highest recorded.

The figures were given in statistics released by the Department for Education.

During the course of the year to 31 March 2021, 2,870 looked after children were adopted. This is a reduction of 18 per cent on the corresponding figure in 2020. This continues a fall from a peak in 2015. The large decrease this year is likely driven by the impact on court proceedings during the pandemic, where cases progressed more slowly or were paused.

The Association of Directors of Children's Services commented:

"ADCS research shows that the number of children looked after has increased by a third since 2008, while local authorities have faced a 50 per cent reduction in budgets since 2010. Despite the barriers and backlogs caused by the pandemic, we continue to work intensively with children and families to enable them to stay together safely. Only through long-term national investment in early help can we ensure that children are not taken into care when they could have stayed with their family had their needs been met earlier. The government must provide the sector with a sustainable, equitable and long-term financial settlement that enables children to thrive, not just survive in the wake of the pandemic."

For the full statistics, click here.