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This analysis contains the 2020 update to the Stability Index: the Children’s Commissioner’s ongoing project measuring levels stability for children in care. This update focuses on the cohort of children who were in care on 31 March 2019.

In previous years, this work has examined rates of stability for children in care across three domains: placement changes, school changes and social worker changes. The 2020 update, however, only covers placement and school changes; it does not include analysis of social worker changes, because of the disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

As before, data on placement and school changes comes from administrative data collected by Department for Education (DfE), in particular the Children Looked After Census and the National Pupil Database. Local authorities (LAs) submitted this data to DfE prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and so this data was available as normal. However, information on social worker changes comes from a bespoke data request to LAs that was due to return data at the end of March 2020. With the outbreak of COVID-19 this data request was suspended to reduce the burden on LAs at a critical time in the pandemic.

This analysis therefore provides updated figures and trends on placement and school changes. It also examines in more depth how trends in key measures of school and placement stability for children in care have changed from 2016 onwards. An accompanying dataset provides key stability figures for each LA.