Report: Fostering and Adoption Statistical Report 2021-22 – The Care Inspectorate

The Fostering and Adoption statistical report 2021-22 is based on data collected by the Care Inspectorate from service providers in their annual returns over the last five years from 2017 to 2021.

This statistical report outlines data about adoption and fostering services in Scotland. This year summaries are provided in each section to help readers understand the statistics within the wider policy and legislative context.

Key points from the report include:

Foster care in Scotland

The number of foster care households in Scotland continued to decrease

  • At 31 December 2021, there were 3,415 approved foster care households, down 3.5% from 3,540 in 2020.
  • The proportion of households approved for all placement types was lower than the two years previous.
  • 405 foster care households de-registered.

The number of children and young people in foster care continued to decrease

  • At 31 December 2021 there were 4,344 children and young people using fostering services.
  • The number of children and young people using fostering services has decreased each year over the last 5 years, down from 5,315 in 2017.

Approval ranges continue to be exceeded to accommodate children and young people

  • Households went out-with their approval range on 555 occasions. Approval range can refer to the maximum number of children in total and/or the specific age range and/or gender of the children.

Not all family groups of children are placed together

  • 25% of the family groups placed in foster care households were placed separately (some following assessment, others due to emergency situation and lack of resource).
  • 70% of services said they had difficulties recruiting households that will take family groups of children.

In 2021, 46 fostering services said they have a continuing care service

  • There were a total of 389 approved continuing care households and 395 young people accommodated in a continuing care placement.

Adoption in Scotland

The number of children and young people using adoption services continues to decrease

  • There were 209 children approved for adoption, 199 children placed with their new adoptive families and 189 children legally adopted. All of these figures are down from the previous years.

The age profile of children approved for adoption shifted in 2021

  • Almost half (49%) of children approved for adoption were in the two to five age bracket and 45% were infants (children under two years old). Prior to this there were more infants than two to five-year-olds being approved.

More adoptions broke down in 2021 than in any of the four preceding years

  • 37 adoptions broke down.

In 2021, there was a change in direction in the number of adoptive households approved

  • There were 268 new adoptive households approved, 36 more than in 2020.
  • Between the years 2017 and 2020, the number of new households approved decreased each year.

The number of households waiting for a child to be placed was higher in 2021 than in each of the three preceding years

  • 205 households were waiting for a child to be placed.
  • At the same time there were 134 children approved for adoption and waiting to be matched to an adoptive household (less than in each of the four preceding years).

Jackie Irvine, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “This report provides insight into the operation of fostering and adoption services in Scotland over the past five years, and for the first time includes continuing care.

“Foster care and adoption services are vital for assessing, approving and supporting foster carers and the recruitment and assessment of prospective adoptive parents to care for some of our most vulnerable children. Children who are placed away from their home require high-quality care that addresses their emotional needs and supports their wellbeing.

“We hope this report is of use to all those with an interest in adoption and fostering services, and especially to providers of these services who invest significant time in providing information to us each year, as well as to other interested parties.”

The full report can be read here.