The figures presented below are taken from statistical reports gathered and published by government departments and bodies. Details of sources are provided at the foot of this page.


On 31st March 2019:

  • 78,150 children were in the care of local authorities, up 4% on 31 March 2018
  • the rate of looked after children per 10,000 children under 18 years was 65 (up from 64 in 2018 and 60 in 2015)


On 31st March 2019: 

  • 72% (56,160) of children looked after were living with foster carers (13% in a foster placement with a relative or a friend, 58% with a foster carer who is not a relative or a friend)
  • 12% (9,500) were living in secure units, children’s homes or semi-independent living
  • 7% (5,210) were placed with their parents
  • 3% (2,190) were placed for adoption
  • 4% (3,400) were living independently or in residential employment
  • 10% (8,110) of the looked after children had had 3 or more placements during the year and 22% (17,160) had two placements.

Foster Placements

On 31st March 2019, of the 56,160 children in foster placements:

  • 34,330 (61%) were placed inside the council boundary
  • 10,450 (19%) were being fostered by a relative or friend
  • 430 (1%) were in placements where the carer is also an approved adopter (fostering for adoption) or where they were subject to concurrent planning

Legal Status

On 31st March 2019:

  • 58,260 (75%) children looked after under care orders
  • 14,130 (18%) children looked after under voluntary agreements under Section 20 of Children’s Act 1989
  • 5,450 (7%) children looked after had a placement order granted


Department for Education: Children looked after in England including adoption: 2018 to 2019

The Department for Education Children looked after in England statistics include tables providing a breakdown of children in care by age, gender, ethnicity, legal status, reason for being in care, reasons for placement changes for children who moved placement in the year, fostering for adoption and concurrent planning, special guardianship, duration of latest period of care, adoption placements and care leavers activities, accommodation, children looked after who were missing, offending and substance misuse by looked after children, development, health, emotional health