Children enter care for a variety of reasons in England and Wales; unfortunately, today and historically, the most common reason identified is ‘because they were at risk of abuse or neglect’.
If social work teams are unable to help the birth family to make it safe for children to return to live at home with birth family and if it isn’t possible or suitable to live with extended family, the decision may be made by courts that a child requires long term care through either adoption or long term fostering. Long term fostering is sometimes a more suitable option for older children over the age of 8 years.
Most of the children placed for adoption are initially cared for by their foster carers prior to placement for adoption, some maybe placed in an early permanence placement.
Adoption is only right for a very small percentage of all children looked after in care. In 2022, the number of children looked after by local authorities in England was 82,170, in this year 2,950 children were adopted. Children who are adopted are likely to have better health, achieve more in education and have better employment prospects than children in alternative permanent arrangements, according to the evidence currently available.