This report provides insight into the operation of fostering, adoption and continuing care services in Scotland over the past five years.  It is based on data collected from service providers in their annual returns between 2018 to 2022.

Jackie Irvine, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “The Care Inspectorate is committed to helping children in Scotland thrive. We hope that the insights in this report can play a part in improving and strengthening the supports which are in place for children and young people through adoption, fostering and continuing care services. We’d like to especially thank the providers of these services who invest significant time in providing information to us each year. By working together, we can stand up for children and strengthen communities across Scotland.”

Key points

Foster care in Scotland

  • The number of foster care households in Scotland continued to decrease.
  • At 31 December 2022, there were 3,261 approved foster care households down 4.8% from 3,426 in 2021.
  • The proportion of households approved for all placement types (60%) was higher than the four preceding years.
  • There were fewer new households approved (194) than in any of the four preceding years.
  • In 2022, 402 foster care households de-registered.
  • The number of children and young people in foster care continued to decrease.
  • At 31 December 2022 there were 4,162 children and young people using fostering services.  The number of children and young people using fostering services has decreased each year over the last 4 years, down from 5,171 in 2018.
  • As with previous years, there were more children placed in interim placements (1,845) compared to permanent (1,178) or long-term (1,115).
  • 334 children experienced an unplanned ending of their placement in 2022.
  • There were 99 children seeking asylum and refuge using fostering services in 2022, the highest number recorded to date.
  • Not all family groups of children are placed together.
  • In 2022, similar to each of the previous four years, 24% of the family groups placed in foster care households were placed separately (some following assessment, others due to emergency situations and lack of resource).
  • 70% of services said they had difficulties in 2022 recruiting households that will take family groups of children.
  • In 2022, 49 fostering services said they have a continuing care service.
  • In 2022 there were a total of 428 approved continuing care households and 434 young people accommodated in a continuing care placement.

Adoption in Scotland

  • The number of children and young people approved for adoption increased.
  • In 2022, there were 240 children approved for adoption, 31 more than the previous year.
  • 181 children were placed with their new adoptive families (down on the previous year) and 193 children were legally adopted (similar to the previous year).
  • The age profile of children approved for adoption returned to the pre-2021 trend.
  • In 2022, 45% of children approved for adoption were in the two to five age bracket and 49% were infants.  In the preceding year there were more two to five-year-olds approved than infants (49% and 45% respectively).
  • Fewer adoptions broke down in 2022 than in the previous year.
  • In 2022, 12 adoptions broke down compared to 37 in 2021.
  • In 2022, there was a levelling off in the number of adoptive households approved since a gradual decline from 2018.
  • There were 236 new adoptive households approved in 2022, 32 less than in 2021.
  • A higher proportion of new households (25%) were approved to adopt children aged six years or older than previously (11-13%)
  • The number of households waiting for a child to be placed was higher in 2022 than in each of the four preceding years.
  • In 2022, 236 households were waiting for a child to be placed.
  • At the same time there were 135 children approved for adoption and waiting to be matched to an adoptive household (similar to the previous year and less than in each of the years 2018-2020).

The full report can be read here: Fostering and adoption 2022-23 statistical bulletin.