Press release

A state of the nation picture on adoption

Ofsted’s first adoption statistics are published today, providing a comprehensive picture of adoption in England.

Along with the adoption statistics, Ofsted is also publishing the fourth annual statistics for fostering services.

Deputy Chief Inspector for Ofsted, John Goldup said:

‘This publication brings into the public domain for the first time a wealth of data on over 4,250 approved adopters; the length of time adopters wait for a child; the outcome of 25,400 initial enquiries about becoming an adoptive parent made to adoption agencies in 2011/12; the likelihood of sibling groups being placed together; and much more.

‘It enables comparison between the performance of local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies. We think it will have a significant impact on the current debate about improving the performance of the adoption system.

‘We are also publishing Ofsted’s fourth annual fostering services data. It is encouraging to see there is an increase in the number of foster carers and that more young people are being supported by their local authorities to remain in foster care after their 18th birthday.

‘However, it is of concern that a small number of children in foster care did not have any educational arrangements in place at some point in the year. If we are to help children in care achieve a better future we must ensure that they get regular and consistent education. There is also a worrying increase in the number of times children in foster care go missing. Early next year, we will be publishing a report on children who go missing from home and from care, which examines this issue in depth.’

Adoption

Ofsted analysed 147 responses from local authorities and 33 Voluntary Adoption Agencies (VAAs) giving data for the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012.

Overall

  • 3,450 children and young people were adopted in England during the year
  • On 31 March 2012, there were 2,680 children living with their adoptive families but an adoption order had not yet been granted
  • 535 children were placed for adoption through VAAs and 736 children through local authorities
  • 545 children were placed for adoption with VAAs by local authorities

Profile of children placed for adoption

  • 78% (452) of children who were matched or placed for adoption with VAAs were White, the next largest ethnic group were 16% (94) Mixed and 4% (20) Asian
  • 51% (215) of children who were subject of a final adoption order were aged between 2 and 5 years old, 36% (155) were older than 5 years old and 1% (5) were aged less than 12 months

Sibling groups

  • There were 987 sibling groups that were assessed by the local authorities as needing to be adopted together
  • Of the sibling groups who were placed with an adoptive family, 82% were placed together
  • 18% were not placed together even though they were assessed as needing to be placed together

Adoptive families

  • 4,263 adoptive families were approved as at March 2012, of which 85% (3,640) were approved by local authorities and 15% (623) by VAAs
  • Local authorities matched 47% (1,700) of families to children and 47% (1,720) of families had adoptive children living with them but had not yet been granted a final adoption order. The remaining 6% (220) did not have a child placed with them or matched to them
  • VAAs matched 33% (80) of families to children for whom the placement had not yet started, and 51% (316) of families had adoptive children living with them but had not yet been granted a final adoption order. The remaining 36% (227) did not have a child placed with them or matched to them
  • 280 foster carers were approved to adopt the children they were fostering during the year
  • In England there were 2,751 adoptive families granted a final adoption order, 89% (2,438) within local authorities and 11% (313) with VAAs

Recruitment of adopters

  • There were 25,380 initial enquiries to become adopters in England, 74% made to local authorities and 26% made to VAAs
  • Of these enquiries 16% (4,145) went on to become applications for adoption
  • 85% (3,516) of the applications were made to local authorities, a rate of one application for every five enquiries, and 15% (629) were made to VAAs, a rate of one application for every ten enquiries
  • 3,048 applications were approved, 23 were refused and 478 applications were withdrawn
  • Decisions to approve or refuse applicants to become adopters were made within 8 months for 54% (1,432) of the families applying through local authorities and 53% (208) for families applying through VAAs
  • Of those families approved as at 1 April 2011, 52% (1,314) were matched in less than seven months and 25% (697) were matched after 10 months

Characteristics of adopters

  • The largest ethnic origin of all adopters approved by local authorities was White at 92% (4,528), and respectively: 2% (120) Asian, 2% (104) Black and 2% (83) Mixed
  • The largest ethnic origin of all adopters approved by VAAs was White at 86% (631), with Asian the next largest with 5% (38), then Black and Mixed with 2% each (24 and 22 respectively)
  • Of the adopters approved: 75% (2,282) were married, 10% (292) were single, 8% (243) had a common law marriage (unmarried cohabiting couples), 3% (98) had a civil partnership and 2% (70) were in a same sex partnership

Fostering

Ofsted received 148 responses from local authorities and 270 from independent fostering services (IFS) giving data for the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012.

Overall

  • 75,605 children were in foster care (these are referred to as permanent placements in the data and does not include short break care) and 10,854 in short break placements during the year
  • 514 sibling groups were not placed together by local authorities when the assessment was for them to be placed together
  • 2,020 young people were supported by local authorities to remain in their foster placement after their 18th birthday, which is an increase from the same period in 2010-11 of around 16%
  • 67,340 foster carers were approved on 31 March 2012. Of these, a large majority of carers were White (84%). The next largest number was Black (8%), followed by Asian (4%), Chinese and ‘Other’ (2%) and Mixed (1%). This was very similar to the ethnicity profile of foster carers for 2010-11
  • There were a total of 40,842 fostering households on 31 March 2012. This is an increase of around 7% from the previous year. Of these, 67% were registered with local authorities and 33% were registered with IFS
  • Overall, there were 7,427 new fostering households approved during the year. This is an increase of 9% from the same period in 2010-11. Local authorities approved 63% (4,648) of new households and 37% (2,779) were approved by IFS. This compares with 60% of new households approved in 2010-11 by local authority and 40% by IFS

Children in foster care going missing

  • There were 9,480 reported incidents of children going missing, involving a total of 3,151 children
  • Although IFS place 31% of all fostered children, they account for 59% (5,588) of incidents of missing children, and 56% (1,755) of the number of children who go missing
  • The reported incidents of children going missing have increased by around 19%, and the number of children involved have increased by around 18% for the same period in 2010-11
  • More than half of the children (1,645) went missing for less than 24 hours, 34% (1,061) went missing between 1 and 6 days, 9% (287) went missing between one week and 28 days and 4% (126) went missing for longer than 28 days over the course of the year
  • On 31 March 2012 there were 46 (1%) foster children still missing from care

The education of children in foster care

  • There were a total of 34,846 foster children and young people who were of compulsory school age on 31 March 2012
  • 1,820 (5%) of children and young people in foster care changed educational placement, or school, as a result of a foster placement change; an increase of around 6% from 2010-11
  • 316 (1%) children and young people in foster care had no educational arrangements at some point in the year
  • There were 1,556 (4%) children and young people in foster care reported as having persistent absence from school during the year

Notes to editors

  1. The official statistical release for adoption agencies 2011 to 12 and Fostering services 2011 to 12 are available online.
  • Adoption: Of the 150 LAs, 147 responded to the survey and of the 49 voluntary adoption agencies, 33 responded
  • Fostering: Of the 150 LAs, 148 responded to the survey and of 295 independent fostering services (IFS), 270 responded
  1. Permanent placement relates to all fostering that is not short break. It includes, for example, all non-short break foster care, including short term and bridging to permanent placements.

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