Number of looked after children in Wales rises by 20% in last five years

There were 5,419 looked after children in Wales on 31 March 2011, according to latest figures issued by the Wesh Assembly Government.

This is an increase of 5 per cent over the previous year and a rate of 87 per 10,000 population aged under 18. The number of looked after children has increased by 20 per cent over the last five years.

The number of children in foster care placements increased by 260 and there was a net decrease of 2 in the number of children in all other types of placement. Four-fifths (80 per cent) of looked after children were in foster placements at 31 March 2011. The proportion of looked after children in foster placements increased slightly compared to previous years.

There were 499 children in care at 31 March who had three or more placements during the year, a decrease of 31 children compared to the previous year. The percentage of children with 3 or more placements fell slightly from 10 per cent to 9 per cent.

The main reason why social services first engaged with looked after children was because of abuse or neglect (59 per cent). In the year, a total of 1,116 children started to be looked after because of abuse and neglect.

There were 1,627 children leaving care in the year, an increase of 3 per cent from the previous year. Almost half of all children leaving care returned home to live with parents, relatives or other persons with parental responsibility. The number of children returning home was similar to the previous year.

There were 252 children adopted from care in the year ending 31 March 2011. Almost nine in ten children (87 per cent) were adopted by others and not by their former foster carer in 2010-11. The number of children adopted increased by 23 (10 per cent) over the previous year.

Local authorities were in touch with 93 per cent of 19 year old care leavers; 48 per cent of 19 year old care leavers were known to be in education, training or employment.