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Children in Care in England

The Department for Education has recently published a breakdown of the number of children in care in England.

The figures show that the number of looked after children has increased steadily over the past seven years.

There were 69,540 looked after children at 31st March 2015, an increase of 1% compared to the same point last year, and an increase of 6% compared to 31st March 2011.

Whilst the reasons why children start to be looked after have remained relatively stable since 2011, the percentage starting to be looked after due to family dysfunction has apparently increased slightly (16% of children in 2015 compared with 14% in 2011).The majority of looked after children – 61% in 2015 - are looked after by the state due to abuse or neglect.

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 31st March, 52,050 (75%) were cared for in a foster placement.

There were 3,320 looked after children placed for adoption, representing 5% of all looked after children. The number and percentage of looked after children placed for adoption rose each year between 2011 and 2014, but there has been a 15% reduction in the number in 2015.

This corresponds with a reduction in the number of children with placement orders. The National Adoption Leadership Board has apparently linked this fall to the impact of two relevant court judgments, known as Re B and Re B-S.

Commenting on the figures, Jackie Sanders, director of public affairs at The Fostering Network, said:

"With record numbers of children in care in England, the role of foster carers in providing homes for children who can't live with their birth families is more important than ever.

"There has been some concern raised about the drop in adoption orders. Adoption and long-term fostering are both valid permanency options for children, as are SGOs, living with wider family members and residential care.

“The first priority when choosing a permanency option should not be legal status, but rather the welfare and wellbeing of each child, and finding the right home and family for them. That is why The Fostering Network is keen to have less of a focus on the fact that adoption orders are dropping, and to make the story the fact that children are having more opportunities than ever to find the right placement to meet their individual needs.”

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

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