Figures released by the Department for Education show adoptions in England and Wales rose by 26% in the year to March 2014. Overall 5,050 looked after children were adopted. The publication also looked at the average times for children at each stage of the adoption process.
The majority of children adopted in 2014 were aged between 1 and 4, with average age that children are being adopted falling to 3 years and 5 months.
The number of looked after children also increased by 1% from the previous year to 68,840. These figures have increased progressively over the past 5 years. 30,430 children were taken into care in the year ending 31st March, which is an increase of 5% from 2013.
The Children Act 1989 states that the definition for a ‘looked after’ child is one who is provided with accommodation by a local authority for more than a 24 hour period or is subject to a care order or placement. Once a child reaches the age of 18 they cease to be ‘looked after’ but become a young adult who is eligible for assistance from the local authority.
The publication also highlighted that 30,430 children ceased to be looked after. Many of these children returned home to their parents or relatives, which was the most common reason for children to cease being looked after.
The figures were collected through the ‘Children Looked After’ return which all local authorities in England complete each spring. The publication is used to inform policy decisions to ultimately try and improve the lives of children within these groups.