An investigation has revealed that that the number of councils placing babies under a special guardianship order has tripled in the past two years.
Data obtained by the BBC, found that the number of babies being placed with family, friends or foster parents rather than being adopted has risen from 160 in 2012 to 520 in 2014.
Fostering and adoption charity TACT told the BBC that while children living with extended families could be beneficial, there are concerns over whether assessments were detailed enough.
The spokesperson for the Department for Education said: ‘Councils have told us the way they use SGOs has evolved over the 10 years since their introduction, including a rise in orders for younger children in more recent years.
‘That is why we are taking the opportunity to ensure SGOs are only used in the right circumstances, as well as reviewing the existing good practice and support available for special guardians.’
Official figures show that the number of adoptions have fallen in England, from 960 in June 2014 from 1,830 in September 2013.