Recruitment targets foster carers

Today, nearly 70,000 children are living with almost 55,000 foster families. The Fostering Network estimates that a further 7,200 foster families are needed in the next 12 months alone, in order to ensure all fostered children can live with the right family for them.

Foster care provides children with a safe, secure and nurturing family environment, and allows them to keep in contact with their own families if they wish and if it is in their best interests.

With record numbers of children in care and around 12 per cent of the foster carer workforce retiring or leaving every year, The Fostering Network estimates that fostering services across the UK need to recruit at least a further 7,200 foster families in the next 12 months alone. There is a particular need for foster carers to look after teenagers and sibling groups.

Fostering services work all year round to find and recruit the foster carers they need locally to look after these children. Without enough foster families willing and able to offer homes to these groups, some children will find themselves living a long way from family, school, and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who does not have the ideal skills and experience to meet their specific needs.

Numbers of foster families needed across the UK

UK 7,200 more foster families needed
England 6,000
Northern Ireland 300
Scotland 500
Wales 400

Regional breakdown in England

North East 416
North West 850
Yorkshire and the Humber 645
East Midlands 442
West Midlands 757
East of England 517
London 771
South East 1,091
South West 510

UK regional local authority breakdowns

East Midlands

East Midlands regional breakdown

East of England

East of England regional breakdown


London regional breakdown

North East

North East regional breakdown

North West

North West regional breakdown

South East

South East regional breakdown

South West

South West regional breakdown

West Midlands

West Midlands regional breakdown

Yorkshire and the Humber

Yorkshire and the Humber regional breakdown


Scotland regional breakdown


Wales regional breakdown


In order to calculate the recruitment targets, The Fostering Network uses the best available statistics and sector intelligence and makes a number of assumptions based on our market knowledge.
There are three elements in the calculation:

Replacing those who leave the fostering workforce during the year

Using the Ofsted dataset for England, we take the average percentage of the fostering workforce leaving across the previous three years. We assume it will hold for the forthcoming year and that it is applicable across the UK.

Number of children in care on any one day

The number of children coming into care has been rising in recent years. We look at the rise in the previous year in each nation according to government statistics, and, using sector intelligence about current trends, adjust this to provide an estimate for the rise in the next 12 months.

Increasing the size of the pool of available foster carers

Fostering services continue to report that in some parts of the country there are simply no available foster carers or specific shortages of households willing/able to care for teenagers, sibling groups, disabled children, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and so on.

We, therefore, include a further element to enable growth of the pool of available foster carers to improve placement choice.

The sum of these three elements gives a percentage rise which we apply to the number of existing foster families in each nation. In England these figures are taken from the Ofsted dataset, elsewhere they are calculated from The Fostering Network’s membership database plus an estimate of the number not in membership.

A slight adjustment is made to these figures to reflect some national differences, giving us the recruitment targets in each nation.