A rapid review of sources of evidence on the views, experiences and perceptions of children in care and care leavers

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing

New research for the Children’s Commissioner for England, undertaken by the National Children’s Bureau and Research in Practice, has collated evidence reflecting the voice of children in care and care leavers regarding their experiences of the care system. This report suggests that practitioners and policy makers have much to learn from existing evidence and the voices of young people in care to help inform their practice. The report contains a number of useful examples of good practice, illustrated in short case studies.

Australia’s welfare 2017 is the 13th biennial welfare report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). This comprehensive report provides an overview of the wellbeing of Australians, examining a wide range of areas such as children youth and families, education and employment, and ageing, disability and informal care. Findings relating to children and young people show that the number of out of home care placements is climbing, while the number of young people under youth justice supervision is on the decline.

Child maltreatment, homelessness and youth offending

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This short article examines the links between child maltreatment, homelessness and youth offending. Homeless young people commonly experience complex and multiple traumas, and are particularly vulnerable to continued victimisation and offending. It is imperative that we provide support to maltreated young people who are forced to leave their home.

This literature review explores the relationship between child poverty in New Zealand and the impact that poverty can have on the mental health of a child or young person, or later as an adult. It provides an overview of the extent and nature of child mental health and poverty in New Zealand, and the links between the two. The literature review shows that mental health conditions among children and adolescents can be reduced by addressing severe and persistent poverty, particularly during the early years of a child’s life.

This updated resource sheet provides a snapshot of the rates of involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection and out-of-home care. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be the subject of substantiated reports of harm or risk of harm. Further, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care. The experience of poverty, assimilation policies, intergenerational trauma and discrimination is discussed in relation to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Child protection system.

This report was developed in collaboration with Melbourne University and identifies gaps in published literature pertaining to 5 key focus areas; Aboriginal children and families, out of home care, high-risk young people, trauma-informed practice, children with disabilities and their families and family violence.

Developments to strengthen systems for child protection across Australia

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This Australian Institute of family studies (AIFS) paper outlines the latest changes within Australian child protection systems. It draws on a survey completed by child protection departments across Australia on change and reform planned or underway since July 2010.The key challenges faced by Australia’s child protection system include insufficient capacity to meet the quantity and complexity of cases in statutory child protection and out-of-home care (OOHC), failure to improve outcomes for children in OOHC and the over-representation of Aboriginal children in statutory child protection and OOHC.

The 2017 Family Matters Report has been released, showing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and 9.8 times more likely to be living in out of home care than non-Indigenous children. It is estimated that by 2036 the number of Indigenous children in care will more than triple if nothing is changed. The reports set out what governments must do to turn the tide on the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care, and improve outcomes for vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

These publications from the Department of Health and Human Services share the complexities of work with children, youth and families and some of the innovative practice approaches being used to address them. This is an annual publication shining a spotlight on examples of good practice and the variety of practice approaches available.

Improving data collection to better support children in out-of-home care at risk of offending

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This short article focuses on the need for better data collection to inform how to best support children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC) at risk of offending. Research has clearly identified the link between living in OOHC and involvement in the criminal justice system. However, more work is needed to have an in-depth understanding of this cohort’s background, demographics, experiences and outcomes, and the different ways that vulnerable children become offenders.

Keeping Queensland’s children more than safe: Review of the foster care system

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

In September 2016, the Premier of Queensland requested the Queensland Family and Child Commission to undertake a review of the 'blue card' system, the approval and monitoring processes for foster carers, and pressure points in child protection service delivery. This report sets out the findings and recommendations relating to the Queensland foster care system. The report identifies opportunities to build public confidence, strengthen carer assessment, improve approval and renewal processes, and strengthen safeguards for children in care.

Problem sexual behaviours and sexually abusive behaviours in Australian children and young people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This paper reviews the available literature to summarise what we currently know about Australian children and young people who exhibit Problem Sexual Behaviours (PSAs) and Sexually Abusive Behaviours (SABs). Particular attention is paid to vulnerable populations such as Indigenous children and young people, and those in out-of-home care. It is argued that children and young people who demonstrate PSAs and SABs are in need of early therapeutic support.

Review of mental health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in out-of-home care

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Mental Health, Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This article published in the International Indigenous Policy Journal reviews the programs, policies and interventions that aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people living in out-of-home care (OOHC). The review identified nine programs or policies that are designed to improve the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people in OOHC in Australia and abroad. The report concludes that there is a need for culturally competent service provision and attention to the monitoring and evaluation of mental health policies and programs.

Safe and Sound: Creating safe residential care services for children and young people

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing

This Research to Practice issue explores options for the development of safe residential services for children and young people, and discusses the factors preventing them from seeking support for safety concerns. It also includes strategies for preventing harm and responding to safety concerns. The paper emphasises the importance of building trust between the young person and residential staff.

Safe and Sound: The safety concerns of young people in residential care

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

The most recent Institute of Child Protection Studies Research to Practice issue explores the factors leading to children and young people’s vulnerability in residential care, what children and young people think about safety in the context of residential care, and their interpersonal safety concerns. The key safety concerns reported by the young people in residential care include bullying and harassment, sexual harassment or assault, and witnessing violence and self-harm.

Supporting successful reunifications

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

Safe and stable reunification does not begin or end with the return of children to the care of their parents. This bulletin offers information to assist child welfare professionals by providing strategies for achieving reunification and preventing re-entry to care. It includes examples of promising practices in the United States.

Supporting young people transitioning from foster care: Findings from a national survey

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

Child Trends has released a report exploring the ways in which states and communities need to support young people who are in foster care or who have recently transitioned out of foster care as they enter adulthood. Extending foster care beyond 18 years of age is one of the key strategies used by states to support young people through their period of transition. Housing was a key challenge for young people leaving care.

The opportunities, risks and possibilities of social impact investment for housing and homelessness

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing

This report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) investigates the opportunities and risks for social impact investments to improve housing and homelessness outcomes. It examines alternative finance models and presents case studies of social impact investment. The report highlights that the social impact investment market is still in its infancy and consequently the evidence base is limited.

The road to adulthood: Aligning child welfare practice with adolescent brain development

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This paper published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the most recent research on adolescent brain development, and how to address issues of trauma and racism in the lives of young people in care. Particularly with this vulnerable cohort, practitioners must have an understanding of the role of trauma and racism in shaping their life experiences. Further, they must be equipped with effective strategies for helping young people to make sense of their experiences and develop strategies for healing and growth. This paper provides recommendations for child welfare professionals, carers and systems to utilise this research to work effectively with youth living in, or leaving care.

Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre has released a paper that examines how the accommodation needs of unaccompanied children aged under 16 have been articulated and addressed across a number of Australian jurisdictions. The paper follows from an earlier release of ‘Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania’, which found that highly vulnerable teens struggle to find safe accommodation, and that a completed circle of care was needed to ensure they do not fall through the cracks. This iteration explores the policy, programs and services offered in other Australian states and territories which address the shortage of medium and long-term care for older children unable to return home.

The Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights has released three new publications to assist practitioners to provide culturally appropriate services and respond to the distinct concerns that may be held by young Muslim children. There are two booklets specific to workers: ‘Caring for Muslim children in out-of-home care’ and ‘Caring for Muslim children in foster care’.

Mission Australia’s Youth Mental Health and Homelessness Report presents findings from the Mission Australia Youth Survey. It shows that poor family functioning and serious mental illness are factors that significantly impact the risk of homelessness for young Australians aged 15-19 years. Findings include those with a probable serious mental illness are 3.5 times more likely to have spent time away from home than those without a probable serious mental illness.