In this ‘Kids Count’ policy report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the intersection of children, opportunity, race and immigration. It explores the significant barriers facing children in immigrant families, and offers recommendations to help children in immigrant families gain the stability, economic resources and opportunities they need to thrive. The 2017 policy report considers the early care and education needs of children in immigrant families, and the importance of keeping the family together.

This Institute of Child Protection Studies (ICPS) Research to Practice issue explores why people make the decision to become a foster carer, and the strategies that can be used to support and retain carers for children in OOHC. Effective strategies differ across care type (i.e. foster carers and kinship carers); however, ‘word of mouth’ emerges as the most effective recruitment strategy: for example, knowing or meeting other foster carers, or having a family member who was a foster carer. Important elements of support for carers include training, financial support and respite. This research is particularly pertinent at a time when recruiting and retaining skilled foster carers is increasingly an issue.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants and the experience of parenthood: A synthesis of the qualitative literature

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Families and parenting, Literature Review

This paper draws together the current qualitative literature describing the parenting experiences of refugees, asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. Three themes emerged from the literature: experiencing hardship or loss; building resilience and strength: and living transnationally. Transnational parenting is a relatively new concept, and introduces issues such as family separation and reunification and forging an international family identity. Transnational identity can also afford families additional resources. Overall, the review shows how stress related to migration and resettlement can compound the responsibilities related to parenthood.

Religious visibility, disadvantage and bridging social capital: a comparative investigation of multicultural localities in Melbourne’s north

low income, Religious visibility

This RMIT research project explores how religious visibility impacts social cohesion in two ethnically diverse suburbs in Melbourne’s north; Fawkner and Broadmeadows. The project focused primarily on the visibility of Muslims in these areas. It proposes that people living in more diverse suburbs are less likely to express or experience Islamophobia. The report provides considerations for future policy and programs, with a strong focus on educating the community about different faiths, and encouraging understanding and social cohesion.

Remote data collection on violence against children during COVID-19: A conversation with experts on research priorities, measurement and ethics (Part 2)

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, Child maltreatment, Report

Part two of his two part report from UNICEF presents a conversation with experts on research priorities, measurement and ethics for collecting data with these vulnerable groups. This is framed in the context of COVID-19, which may lead to an increased risk of violence as a result of compounding structural, interpersonal and individual-level risk factors - including the increased economic strain placed on families, stay-at-home orders, school closures and other COVID-19 response measures.

Remote data collection on violence against women during COVID-19: A conversation with experts on ethics, measurement & research priorities (Part 1)

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, Report

Part one of this two part report from UNICEF presents a conversation with experts on research priorities, measurement and ethics for collecting data with these vulnerable groups. This is framed in the context of COVID-19, which may lead to an increased risk of violence as a result of compounding structural, interpersonal and individual-level risk factors - including the increased economic strain placed on families, stay-at-home orders, school closures and other COVID-19 response measures.

Rental Affordability Snapshot

low income

This eighth annual Rental Affordability Snapshot by Anglicare Australia highlights the lived experience of people and families on low incomes trying to find a home in the private rental market. The report surveyed over 67,000 properties across Australia in regional and metropolitan areas and found that only 239 homes were affordable for a single parent with one child on Newstart and eight were affordable for a single person in a property or share house on Youth Allowance.

Reporting the health and development of children in rural and remote Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Safety and wellbeing

A new report highlights the rapidly growing disparity between city and rural children’s developmental health. The report emphasises the developmental, behavioural and mental health needs of children aged 0-12 years of age, and the current gaps in the provision of appropriate health services for children and families. Aboriginal children are significantly more likely than their non-Indigenous peers to live in remote and rural areas, and are have greater exposure to adverse conditions and lack of services in these areas.

Reporting the Health and Development of Children in Rural and Remote Australia

Poverty, Safety and wellbeing

This review by the Centre for Community Child Health contributes to the knowledge base of the profile of children residing in rural and remote Australia, with particular attention to developmental outcomes and social determinants of health. It found that children in remote and regional areas are more likely to experience poverty, live in unemployed households in single parent families with low educational engagement, who are also more likely to be socially isolated and Indigenous. This review will inform a more systematic approach to improving access to health services and health outcomes for children living in rural and remote Australia.

Research ethics in practice: challenges of using digital technology to embed the voices of children and young people within programs for fathers who use domestic violence

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, Journal article

This paper from Katie Lamb, Cathy Humphreys and Kelsey Hegerty (University of Melbourne) discusses the ethical challenges of using digital technology to conduct qualitative research with children in the family violence space. It focuses on a study was undertaken in Victoria, which used a combination of interviews, focus groups and digital storytelling. While digital storytelling proved to be an effective method of engaging children and young people in the research, a range of challenging ethical issues emerged - both in the formal 'procedural ethics' process, and related to the complex issues of anonymity and safety considerations in practice.

Responding to adverse childhood experiences with HOPE: health outcomes from positive experiences

Early years, Safety and wellbeing

This article introduces a framework called “HOPE: Health Outcomes From Positive Experiences.” The HOPE framework focuses on the need to actively promote positive childhood experiences that contribute to child wellbeing and development. The data presented demonstrates the powerful contribution of positive relationships and experiences to the development of healthy children.

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.

Risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect

Families and parenting, Child maltreatment

This paper provides an overview of the risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect in families. It includes a comprehensive list of common risk and protective factors. The resource is designed for practitioners and policy-makers who work in the areas of child maltreatment. Identification of risk and protective factors can be used develop targeted approaches to reducing child abuse and neglect, and to inform direct intervention in cases where children are at risk of harm.

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.

School Attitudes Assessment Survey-Revised

Education, Journal article, Tool/toolkit

This article describes the School Attitudes Assessment Survey - Revised (SAAS-R). This survey is a validated instrument used to measure the attitudes of adolescents toward school and teachers as well as their goal-valuation, motivation and academic self-perceptions. It is also used to explore below average academic achievement in high school students.

School-based Depression and Anxiety Prevention Programs for Young People: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Education, Mental Health

This paper investigates the effectiveness of school-based programs in preventing depression and anxiety in young people. It is particularly interested in the validity of embedding mental health prevention programs into the school curriculum. This paper highlights the need for improvements in access to mental health prevention services for young people, opposed to treatment after the fact.

Screen time: What’s happening in our homes?

Young People, Technology

The latest Australian Child Health Poll has found that two-thirds of primary school-aged children and one-third of pre-schoolers now own their own tablet or smartphone. The report describes the links between increasing screen time and childhood issues such as lack of physical activity, disrupted sleep patterns and family conflict. The report highlights the important roles that healthcare providers, schools and policymakers alike, can have in helping children navigate this complex technological age.

Seeking help for domestic violence: exploring rural women’s coping experiences – Key findings and future directions

Family Violence

Australia's National Research Organisation For Women's Safety (ANROWS) has released a report presenting the results of a study examining the experiences of women seeking assistance for domestic and family violence in regional, rural, and remote areas in Australia. The qualitative study found that geographical isolation was only a factor for women who lived on isolated properties outside the regional centre. However, geographical isolation was identified as a key challenge for family violence practitioners, as it significantly shaped an agency’s ability to respond.

Self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people aged 14-15 years old

Mental Health, Young People

New research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has measured the rates of self-harm and suicidal behaviour among Australian teenagers. The Australia-wide study found that 10 per cent of 14-15 year-olds reported that they had self-harmed in the previous 12 months and 5 per cent had attempted suicide. The study examined the factors linked to self-harm and found some teens were more at risk than others, including those who are same-sex attracted or experiencing depression or anxiety.

Self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people aged 14-15 years old

Safety and wellbeing

This AIFS report provides a comprehensive, analytical discussion of self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people among a particular cohort in Australia. It explores the prevalence rates of self-harm and suicidal behaviour among 14–15 year olds, the risk factors associated with self-harm and the extent to which poor socio-emotional health earlier in life is associated with self-harm and suicidal behaviour. The findings highlight that interventions and preventive strategies should take place at both individual and school levels, particularly identifying those who are more likely to attempt suicide.

Single-sex schooling and achievement outcomes

Education

Analysis of NAPLAN numeracy and reading data shows that that separating the genders does not provide a greater value-add over time in comparison to coeducational schools. Author Dr Katherine Dix explains that there is an ongoing debate about the benefits of single-sex schools in terms of student achievement. This analysis shows the gap in educational achievement between single-sex and coeducational schools narrowing over time.

Social and economic impacts of implementing the voluntary earlier school starting age

Education

A report from the Secretary of the Department of Education in Tasmania discusses the opportunity to lower the school entry age to three years of age. The report examines the potential impact of the change to the early childhood education and care sector and presents mitigation strategies to ensure sustainable service delivery for families. Upon review of the evidence, the Tasmanian Minister for Education is advised to maintain the school entry age of five, while funding the delivery and evaluation of the Working Together for 3 Year Olds – a targeted pre-school initiative.

Socioeconomic gaps in early childhood experiences: 1998 to 2010

Education, Early years, low income

Using two nationally representative data sets, this study compares the early life experiences of kindergarteners in 1998 and 2010 in the United States. The study finds that young children in the 2010 cohort were exposed to more books and reading in the home, have more access to educational games on computers, and engage more with their parents, both inside and outside of the home, than the 1990 cohort. This is true for both lower-income and higher-income families.

Spatial variation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s access to 4 types of maternal health services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Report

This report examines spatial variation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's access to hospitals with public birthing units and 3 other types of maternal health services. It finds that over 250,000 Indigenous women live more than a one hour drive away from a public birthing unit and that poorer access to maternal health services is associated with higher rates of pre-term birth and low birthweight.

Speaking Out About Youth Justice: The Views of WA Children and Young People

Youth Justice, Young People, Report

The Commissioner for Children and Young People in WA has released a report detailing the experiences of young people who have been in contact with the youth justice system. Along with their personal stories, the young people included in the study share what they think would support them in the community to break the cycle of reoffending. The 92 young people involved in the study communicated the belief that offending could be prevented by making appropriate supports and services available. Key supports included positive role models, living in a safe and stable home, participating in education or employment, being involved in community activities and being supported to deal with personal challenges and behavioural issues. For a large number of young offenders, the role models, family supports and other safety nets many of us take for granted are not present.

State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action

Families and parenting

MenCare has launched the 2017 State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action report. The report draws from nearly 100 research studies from across the globe, to uncover those factors that have delayed progress toward global gender equality. The report is a global call to action, asking every country to set a national goal of men and boys completing half of the unpaid care work.

Identify, Design, Evaluate

Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)

Education, Mental Health, Tool/toolkit

The SDQ is a well validated and population-normed instrument which assesses in respect of emotional problems, peer problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and prosocial behaviour. Learn more about the SDQ...

Strengthening prevention and early intervention services for families into the future

Families and parenting, Safety and wellbeing

This report prepared by Deakin University and Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) investigates the potential of the family and relationships sector to take a stronger prevention and early intervention approach. Substance abuse and antisocial behaviour were among the eight priority health and social problems identified as potentially preventable through the delivery of family and relationship services. The report recommends a national action plan to increase prevention and early intervention service delivery.

Strong families, safe kids: family violence response and prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence, Report

While most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have strong and healthy relationships, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are significantly more likely to experience family violence than non-Indigenous people. This policy paper outlines the impact of family violence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including the role of communal grief, disempowerment and trauma. It also investigates the key factors behind why current policy and practice responses are failing, and a detailed pathway for achieving change. Connection to culture and the right to self-determination are central to supporting families to be free from violence.

This Institute of Child Protection Studies Research to Practice issue explores the challenges faced by refugee families living in Australia and the formal supports that are available to them. The paper draws on in-depth interviews with families from a refugee background, and a national survey of government funded service providers supporting refugee families. It paints a picture of the networks, relationships and resources used by refugee families and the implications for policy and service delivery. Connecting children and young people, building culturally safe services and communication across service sectors are among some of the recommendations made.

Supporting the Roadmap for Reform: Evidence-Informed Practice

Families and parenting, Report

This report gives an overview of evidence informed practice to facilitate a shift from outputs to outcomes based service delivery. It examines the sources of evidence-informed practice and provides a methodology for developing a Menu of evidence-informed practices and programs.

Supporting vulnerable households to achieve their housing goals: The role of impact investment

Safety and wellbeing, Report

This report from Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute (AHURI) was released as part of an inquiry into social impact investment (SII) for improving housing and homelessness outcomes. It discusses the real and perceived opportunities and risks of social impact investment for Australia’s housing and homelessness policies. SII has become an increasing focus of governments as a funding solution to entrenched social problems, such as homelessness. While there is much promise with various SII models, there needs to be further investigation of the benefits flowing from this approach in comparison to existing social service delivery models.

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.

Swift, certain and fair approaches to sentencing family violence offenders

Family Violence, Report

This report by the Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) outlines the common elements for accommodating ‘swift and certain justice’ approaches to family violence offenders in Victoria’s sentencing regime. Recommendations relate to human rights, accountability of family violence perpetrators, and information sharing between agencies. The SAC found insufficient evidence that a ‘swift, certain and fair’ approach to sentencing and sentence management of family violence offenders would be effective or appropriate in Victoria, and such an approach should not be implemented

This Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) analysis presents an overview of teens' employment, by age and gender. This includes when and how often teens are working, in what types of employment and the income they receive for their employment. At 14-15 years old, almost 40% had worked in the previous year, with more girls employed (42%) compared to boys (36%).

Temporary Migration and Family Violence: An analysis of victimisation, vulnerability and support

Family Violence, Report

This report details findings from research on the experiences of family violence among migrant women living in Australia on temporary visas. It is the first major study in Australia exploring the intersection of migration status and family violence. The report explores specific issues such as the ways that migration status can be leveraged in the family violence context and the range of exploitative practices that occur, including trafficking and slavery-like situations of violence. The report offers recommendations to address gaps in protection and support of this vulnerable population.

The association between paternal and adolescent depressive symptoms: Evidence from two population-based cohorts

Mental Health

Researchers at the University College London (UCL) have published a study looking at the link between paternal and adolescent depressive symptoms. The study of 14,000 families in the UK and Ireland show an association between depressive symptoms in fathers and depressive symptoms in their adolescent children. Currently, interventions for preventing adolescent depression focus largely on mothers. This research challenges this approach and suggests that treating depression in both parents is important to the mental health of their children.

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) Toolkit

Evaluation, Tool/toolkit

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) has a range of useful tools for co-design including a webinar exploring what is human centred design, and what does it take to do well?

The career aspirations of young adolescent boys and girls

Education

This Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) publication describes the types of jobs adolescents at age 14–15 would like to have in the future. Consistent with previous studies, the AIFS found marked gender differences in career aspirations. The career aspirations are consistent with gender stereotypes, and the gendered nature of subject selection in school. The paper offers a discussion of the implications arising from the research and highlights the integral role of school staff and parents in providing support for young people as they make plans for their future careers.

The Case for Investing In Last Resort Housing

Family Violence, Poverty

An Australian study undertaken by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) has found that it is more cost effective to provide last resort housing to homeless people than allowing them to sleep rough. This is largely through reduced healthcare costs, reduced crime, and assisting people to get back into employment and education. The research includes a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis which finds that for every $1 invested in last resort beds, $2.70 worth of benefits are generated for the community over 20 years. The paper calls for Australian governments to build more new and permanent last resort housing to assist people experiencing homelessness.

The characteristics and potential effects of the school that Indigenous Australians attend

Education, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

This Working Paper from Australian National University’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) uses National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) data to map the distribution of Indigenous students across Australian schools, and identify some of the effects of that distribution on literacy and numeracy outcomes. The researchers consider whether and how school segregation plays a role in undermining the educational performance of Indigenous children.

This keynote by Tom McBride was given at an event co-hosted by CFECFW and Berry Street. It discusses the formation of the Early Intervention Foundation in the UK, and gives an overview of their purpose, evidence standards and how they approach early intervention work across a range of areas.

The effects of pornography on children and young people

Safety and wellbeing, Report

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has released a report looking at the impact of exposure to and consumption of online pornography on children and young people. The report synthesises the existing research to draw out consistent themes and identify promising approaches to addressing the harms of online pornography.

The Australian government has released a short guide for educators and other practitioners working with young people on how to highlight and dismantle stereotypes and language that is potentially damaging to both genders. The guide points out that phrases like ‘boys will be boys’ can normalise aggression and teach girls to expect to be treated in this way. The guide is part of a wider campaign that aims to change attitudes surrounding domestic violence and gender equality.

The first thousand days: An evidence paper

Early years

A report by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute examines the impact of early experiences on different aspects of development and functioning, including health and wellbeing, mental health, social functioning and cognitive development. The report finds disadvantage can be passed down through the generations at a cellular level. New evidence included in the report underscores the significance of the first thousand days, and of the need to reform policies, practices and systems in response.

The Hard Road: National economic & social impact survey 2017

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

The Salvation Army has released the findings from its sixth annual Economic and Social Impact Survey (ESIS). The national survey explores the challenges experienced by those who access the Salvation Army’s Emergency Relief (ER) services. It shows that the top three day-to-day challenges faced by individuals and families include being able to afford enough food to eat, managing mental health and emotional wellbeing, and managing financial stress. Homelessness and housing stress were also important themes that emerged from the study, with 44% of respondents having moved house at least three times in the past 12 months and 66% experiencing extreme housing stress.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey

Families and parenting

The latest report of the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey has been released by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. The annual report explores seven topics: family life; economic wellbeing; labour market outcomes; retirement; gambling; young home-owners and; attitudes to marriage, parenting and work. The longitudinal study aims to tell the stories of the same group of Australians over the course of their lives. Among other findings, the cost of childcare was shown to have a profound impact on families in recent years, with costs increasing by 104 per cent for single income families and 75 per cent for couples since 2002.