New statistics shows increase in number of looked after children
New data released this week by the Department for Education has shown a continuing upward trend in the number of looked after children in England. There were 65,520 looked after children as at 31 March 2011, an increase of 9% since 2007.
Among children in care the split between adoption and fostering has shown significant change. The number of children being placed for adoption has reduced since 2007, from 2,720 to 2,450 in 2011, while foster placements have increased from 42,030 to 48,530.
Of the 48,530 children in foster care, 13,670 children were placed by independent fostering agencies. This is a significant increase from the 9,810 children placed by independent agencies in 2007 and suggests that external providers are becoming an increasingly important part of the solution to looked after children in the UK.
One such independent agency, which has seen an increase in referrals from local authorities, is the National Fostering Agency (NFA). NFA is the second-largest fostering agency in the UK, which partners closely with local authorities and foster carers to create the best possible opportunities and outcomes for children. It places over 1,800 children and young people and became the first independent fostering agency to be presented with the LILAC award (Leading Improvements for Looked After Children) by the national care leavers’ charity, A National Voice.
Iain Anderson, CEO of NFA, commented on the statistics: “”We’ve seen record numbers of referrals over the past year and are working closely with our local authority customers to find the best possible solutions for looked after children. Our commitment at NFA is to improve the lives of children and young people and find the best possible foster carers, who can provide a stable home for these vulnerable young people.