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Information on children on care orders and in placements, adoptions from care and numbers of children and young persons leaving care for April 2019 to March 2020.

Data in this annual update covers the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Although the majority of this data relates to before the pandemic, it may have a small effect on these figures.

‘Looked after children’ refers to children who are looked after by local authorities in Wales.

A child is a person who is aged under 18. Section 74 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act states that a child who is looked after by a local authority is a child who is in its care; or provided with accommodation, for a continuous period of more than 24 hours, by the authority in the exercise of any functions which are social services functions, apart from functions under section 15, Part 4, or section 109, 114 or 115.

At 31 March 2020

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Chart showing the number of looked after children at 31 March 2003 to 2020. The number of looked after children has been steadily increasing in recent years. 7,172 children were looked after on 31 March 2020, an increase of 338 (5%) compared to the previous year.

 

7,172 children were looked after(a) on 31 March 2020, an increase of 338 (5%) compared to the previous year and a rate of 114 per 10,000 population aged under 18, 5 percentage points higher than at 31 March 2019.

The number of looked after children has been steadily increasing in recent years. The increase at 31 March 2020 reflects that more children started to be looked after during 2019-20 than left care; the same pattern seen in recent years.

6,028 (84%) children were looked after under a care order(b). Although an increase in number compared to the previous year, this is a similar proportion. This proportion has been steadily increasing in previous years, whilst there has been a decrease in the proportion of children looked after under a single period of voluntary accommodation (under section 76 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act).

4,989 (70%) children were accommodated in foster care placements. Whilst in recent years there has been an increase in the number of children placed with foster carers (as the number of looked after children has increased) there has been a fall in proportion. The number, and proportion of looked after children in foster care placed with a relative or friend has been increasing in recent years, whereas the number of children in foster care placed with other foster carers has remained broadly similar, and the  proportion placed with other foster carers has decreased. The number and proportion of children placed with parents or others with parental responsibility has been increasing in recent years.

Over two-thirds (69%) of children were in placements inside the local authority where they were living when they first became looked after.

(a) Excludes children looked after exclusively under short breaks.
(b) Includes full care orders and interim care orders.

April 2019 to March 2020

1,967 children started to be looked after(c) in 2019-20, a decrease of 156 (7%) compared to the previous year. The number of children starting to be looked after has decreased each year since 2016-17.

For children who started to be looked after during the year, the most common reason why the child received care and support initially was because of abuse or neglect (65% or 1,284 children). This proportion has been fairly stable in recent years.

1,661 children left care(d) during 2019-20, a decrease of 24 (1%) compared to the previous year. The number of children leaving care has decreased each year since 2014-15.

For children who left care during the year, almost half (46% or 768 children) returned home to live with parents, relatives or other persons with parental responsibility. A similar proportion has been seen in the last three years but this is a smaller proportion than seen prior to 2017-18.

297 children were adopted from care in 2019-20, a decrease of 13 (4%) compared to the previous year.

642 (9%) children had three or more placements during the year. This is a similar proportion to that seen in recent years.

(c) Where a child had multiple periods of care only the first period is counted.
(d) Where a child had multiple periods of care only the latest period is counted. Excludes children who died or where care was taken over by another local authority in the UK.

Notes

Further information, including local authority level breakdowns, can be found on StatsWales. Some figures for previous years have been revised.

No full statistical release has been published for April 2019 to March 2020 due to analytical resources prioritising the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information on quality can be found in the April 2018 to March 2019 statistical release.

Data

Datasets and interactive tools

Contact

Bethan Sherwood

Telephone: 0300 025 6735

Media

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