Ofsted have released their annual fostering in England statistics.

This release covers:

  • the numbers of foster carers and foster places and placements, in both local authority (LA) and independent fostering agencies (IFA)
  • data relating to types of foster care, registrations, deregistrations and a range of other subjects
  • the period between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022

Main Findings:

Since 2018, mainstream fostering capacity has decreased slightly.

As at 31 March 2022, of the 43,905 fostering households in England, 36,050 were mainstream fostering households. Since 2018, the number of approved mainstream fostering households has decreased by 4% and the number of approved mainstream fostering places has decreased by 5%. During the same period, the number of filled mainstream fostering places has remained fairly static and the number of vacant mainstream fostering places has decreased by 23%.

There is an upward trend in fostering provision provided by family and friends households.

About 1 out of every 6 fostering households in England offers family and friends provision, providing care for about 1 in 5 fostered children. As at 31 March 2022, there were 43,905 fostering households in England. Of these, 7,855 were family and friends households, providing care for around 11,210 children. The number of approved family and friends households has increased by 29% since 2018 (6,100). The proportion of total approved fostering households that are family and friends households has increased from 14% in 2018 to 18% in 2022.

There has been a downward trend in the number of applications for mainstream fostering over the last 5 years. In both sectors a relatively large number of enquiries are not translating into applications.

The number of mainstream fostering applications has fallen from 10,520 in 2018 to 8,280 in 2022. This year, IFAs reported a ratio of 23 initial enquiries per application and LAs reported a ratio of 8 initial enquiries per application. Both sectors’ ratios suggest that a relatively large volume of enquiries are not translating into applications. This discrepancy is much higher in the IFA sector, where it has increased substantially.

There is increasing use of IFAs for mainstream foster care provision.

The proportion of children in mainstream foster care looked after by IFAs has increased by 5 percentage points since 2018. In 2018, IFAs accounted for 40% of all filled fostering places and in 2022 this had risen to 45%.

LA households tend to stay registered for longer than IFA households.

LA services reported that 31% of mainstream fostering deregistrations were within 2 years of approval compared with 34% of IFA deregistrations. Of mainstream fostering deregistrations within the LA sector, 28% had been with their services for 10 or more years compared with 15% of IFA deregistrations.

Find out more here >