Children in care Statistics

Each UK nation collects and publishes statistics about looked after children (the official term for children in care). This includes information about where children in care live and why they are in care.

There are currently over 93,000 children in care in the UK

There were 93,033 children in care in the UK at 31 March 2014 (31 July in Scotland). This figure relates to children who have looked-after child status. It includes children who live at home under the terms of their care plan. The figures for looked-after children in Scotland also include children in the criminal justice system.

Looked after children by UK nation:

England: 68,840
Department for Education (2014) Table A1 in Children looked after in England, including adoption: national tables (XLSX). London: Department for Education.

Northern Ireland: 2,858
Iain Waugh (2014) Section three of Children's social care statistics Northern Ireland 2013/14 (PDF). Belfast: Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Scotland: 15,580
Scottish Government (2015) Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland, 2013-14. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

Wales: 5,675
Welsh Government (2015) Children in need at 31 March by looked after status, category of need and disability, including unborn children. Cardiff: StatsWales.

People

More than half of children are taken into care because of abuse or neglect.

An estimated 46,155 (62%) of children were looked after due to abuse or neglect in England and Wales at 31 March 2014. It is not possible to get an exact number for the UK as Scotland and Northern Ireland do not publish reasons for children being in care.

Children can also become looked after because: a child is disabled, a parent is ill or disabled, there are other family problems, or because the parents are absent (for example, unaccompanied asylum seekers). Looked-after children also include children who are looked after on a voluntary basis at the request of, or by agreement with, their parents. It also includes children who are looked after for short periods of time, such as respite care. In Scotland, children in the criminal justice system are also counted as looked after children.

England: 42,460 out of 68,840 children were taken into care because of abuse or neglect.
Department for Education (2014) Table A1 In: Children looked after in England, including adoption: national tables (XLSX). London: Department for Education.

Wales: 3,695 out of 5,675 children were taken into care because of abuse or neglect.
Welsh Government (2015) Children in need at 31 March by looked after status, category of need and disability, including unborn children. Cardiff: StatsWales.

The number of children in care has been increasing over the past few years.

The number (and rate) of children becoming looked after has been increasing in England since 2007/8 and since 2009/10 in Wales.

See Jutte et al (2014) Indicator 17

Figures from CAFCASS show that care applications in England rose steadily between 2008/09 and 2012/13. The rise has taken place since the death of Peter Connolly in 2007. The latest figures (2013/14) show a slight fall on the 2012/13 figures.

CAFCASS (2014) National picture of care applications in England for 2013-14.

 

Statistics on child abuse

View statistics and information on child abuse and neglect in the United Kingdom.
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