New statistics at both national and local authority levels from the Department for Education show that the number of looked after children in England continues to rise.
Under the Children Act 1989, a child is legally defined as ‘looked after’ by a local authority if he or she:
is provided with accommodation for a continuous period for more than 24 hours;
is subject to a care order; or
is subject to a placement order.
A looked after child ceases to be looked after when he or she turns 18 years old. On reaching his or her 18th birthday, the status of the child changes from being looked after to being a young adult eligible for help and assistance from the local authority.
Key findings from the latest report:
Number of looked after children continues to rise - There were 68,840 looked after children at 31 March 2014, an increase of 1% compared with 31 March 2013 and an increase of 7% compared to 31 March 2010. The numbers have increased steadily over the past 5 years.
More children started to be looked after - There were 30,430 children who started to be looked after during the year ending 31 March 2014, an increase of 5% from 2013 and an increase of 8% from 2010.
More children ceased to be looked after - There were also 30,430 children who ceased to be looked after during the year ending 31 March 2014, an increase of 6% from 2013 and an increase of 20% from 2010.
Adoptions still increasing - There were 5,050 looked after children adopted during the year ending 31 March 2014, an increase of 26% from 2013 and an increase of 58% from 2010. Although the number of looked after children adopted fell between 2010 and 2011, the number of these adoptions has since increased and is now at its highest point since the start of the current collection in 1992.