The number of children adopted from care fell to its lowest level in 21 years in 2020-21, Department for Education (DfE) figures show.
Their number fell by 18% on the year to 2,870, the lowest total since 1999-2000. Delays in family court proceedings during Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the latest annual decline in adoptions, but the number has fallen each year since a peak of 5,360 in 2014-15.
The DfE figures also showed the number of children entering and leaving care both fell sharply, by 8% to 28,440 and by 6% to 28,010, respectively, their lowest levels in nine years. But, as the number entering care still outnumbered those leaving, the number of looked-after children increased for the 13th year running, to a record high of 80,850. The rate of looked-after children per 10,000 children remained at 67, the same as the year before.