Leaving care

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

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Beyond 18, The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care: Wave 3 research report - outcomes for young people leaving care in Victoria

Muir S, Purtell J, Hand K and Carroll M
Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2019.
This report looks at how young people are faring after leaving out-of-home care in Victoria and their views on the main barriers and enablers for achieving better life outcomes. It presents findings from the third and final wave of data collection from 'Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care', and involved a survey of 126 care leavers supplemented with interviews with 54 of the participants. Topics include: income, employment and financial security; post-care accommodation and housing mobility; formal education; health and wellbeing; challenging behaviours and contact with the justice system; social networks and support; pregnancy and parenting; and access to support services. Overall, the study found that a significant proportion of these care leavers were struggling with life after care, with low of educational attainment, low incomes, high levels of financial stress, and a high prevalence of mental health issues than the general population. However, many care leavers showed a desire to improve their lives and a number of the young people were doing well.

Beyond 18, The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care: Wave 2 research report - transitioning to post-care life

Purtell J, Muir S and Carroll M
Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2019.
This report looks at how young people are faring after leaving out-of-home care in Victoria. It presents findings from the second wave of data collection from 'Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care'. The study found that these care leavers had generally poorer mental health, employment and education outcomes than other young people their age, and were also more likely to have children of their own. It also found that young people from residential care had poorer outcomes on some measures than young people from home-based care placements, reporting higher levels of financial stress, greater psychological distress, reduced sense of control over their lives, and difficulty maintaining social relationships. However, some of the care leavers appeared to have had a relatively 'smooth' transition and achieved positive outcomes. A later report will look what factors are associated with these differing transition outcomes.

Homelessness and care experiences: beyond the headlines

Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland
Glasgow : CELCIS, University of Strathclyde, 2019.
This discussion paper looks at the information available to inform debate and policy on young people leaving care in Scotland. It investigates known about how homelessness disproportionately affects the lives of looked after children and care leavers, including the data sources in the United Kingdom, the gaps in what is known, and what further research is needed.

Extending care : supporting young people's transition from out-of-home care to adulthood.

McDonald P and Mendes P
15 May 2019.
This webinar will discuss recent research on the social and economic benefits of extending care to young people transitioning to adulthood. Young people leaving out-of-home care (OOHC) are a vulnerable population. They are at increased risk of poor mental health and developmental delays, and may experience a lack of affordable housing and poor pathways to employment. The transition to adulthood without family support can be challenging for young people leaving OOHC after they turn 18 years of age. Some have argued that young people can be better supported during their transition to adulthood by extending care until 21 years of age or later. This webinar will look at how extending care could improve a range of critical outcomes for these young people. The presenters will review how policy has developed over recent decades, and outline the potential economic benefits of extending care to young people transitioning from OOHC to adulthood. They will also discuss the emerging evidence on extended care implemented internationally and consider its implications for policy and practice in Australia.

Young people transitioning from out-of-home care : what do public inquiries tell us about the state of current policy and practice in Australia?

Mendes P
CFCA short article 6 May 2019
This short article summarises key messages from recent public inquiries about supporting young people leaving out-of-home care. Young people leave out-of-home care in Australia at the age of 18 and they face many challenges as they transition into adulthood without family support. The strongest body of evidence to support extending the age of leaving care emanates from eight public reports prepared by a range of government and related statutory bodies. This article summarises their findings about the challenges these young people face and the recommendations for extending post-care support.

Good practice in supporting young people leaving care

Cameron N, McPherson L, Gatwiri K and Parmenter N
Sydney, N.S.W. : Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care, 2019.
This research briefing provides an overview of what young people leaving residential care need and how those working in residential care can best help young people prepare for independence. Drawing on the Australian and international literature, it outlines the challenges facing young people leaving care, current entitlements in Australia, and the factors known to be crucial to positive transitions. This paper was produced by the Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care, a partnership between the Australian Childhood Foundation and Southern Cross University established to support the rollout of the new Intensive Therapeutic Care system across New South Wales.

Passports out of poverty : raising access to higher education for care leavers in Australia.

McNamara P, Harvey A and Andrewartha L
Children and Youth Services Review v. 97 Feb 2019: 85-93
This article explores higher education among care leavers in Australia, including pathways, access, and achievement. It draws on surveys and interviews with senior personnel from the higher education and community service sectors, and is part of a broader study that will also involve a review of the literature and data sets. The findings from this qualitative part of the study highlight the impact of childhood poverty, trauma and disadvantage on educational participation and outcomes.

Out-of-home care in Australia: children and young people's views after 5 years of national standards

McDowall J
Parramatta, NSW : CREATE Foundation, 2018.
This report investigates children and young people's views on whether the introduction of the National Standards for Out-of-Home Care has led to improvements in care in Australia. The Standards were introduced in 2011 to foster a similar base level of support across the states and territories. The CREATE Foundation conducted an initial national survey of children and young people in 2012, followed by a government survey in 2015. This report presents findings from a new 2018 survey, and as such reviews the impact of the standards after 5 years of operation. 1,275 children and young people aged 10-17 years old were asked about their experiences of life in care, including placement stability, satisfaction with placement, interactions with care workers, sources of support, case planning, knowledge of family and case history, participation in decision making, connection to culture, leisure activities and the internet, contact with family and friends, health, service usage, education and educational planning and support, bullying, feedback and complaints, and transition to independence. Comparisons are included for type of care placement and jurisdiction. This report provides insights into the strengths and limitations of the out of home care system, as well as what children and young people in care value and need. The survey found that 81% of respondents felt quite happy in their current placement, and that 93% felt safe and secure. Particular issues identified include barriers to involvement in decision making, the lack of support available in residential placements, and the need for better preparation for the transition to independence.

Push and pull: increasing student engagement in Developing Independence : the stage 1 evaluation of the Skills for Independence pilot

Conley L
Fitzroy, Vic. : Brotherhood of St Laurence, 2018.
The Certificate I in Developing Independence is an accredited foundation level course in Victoria for 15-25 year olds who are service-connected and do not have the necessary personal, family and social networks to engage in formal education and training. This report evaluates the delivery of this course through the 'Skills for Independence' pilot program for young people aged 15 to 25 who have experienced a youth justice or child protection order. Drawing on interviews with staff, it investigates the mechanisms and conditions which enable these young people to progress successfully through the course. The evaluation identifies institutional and personal barriers that discourage enrolment and engagement and how these can be addressed.

2018 transitions cohort needs assessment: results from Stage Two - 'high' and 'very high' needs survey

O'Neill D and Jagger R
Wellington N.Z. : Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children, 2018.
A study is underway on young people in state care in New Zealand who are at particular risk of not making a successful transition to independence. The study will help inform the design of the government's new Transition Support Service. Stage One assessed the level of need of each young person aged 15-17 years old in care and identified that 378 young people - or 40% - had a 'high' or 'very high' level of need. This report presents the findings of Stage Two of the study, which sought to learn more about the circumstances, needs and service delivery gaps experienced by these young people. Interviews were conducted with 120 social workers working with 96 young people in care and protection and 24 in youth justice sites in urban and rural areas, regarding the presence of a trusted adult in the young person's life, parenthood, school or work participation, behaviour putting themselves or others at risk of harm, impacts of risk taking, mental health concerns, disabilities, substance use problems, need and use of services, multiple needs, living arrangement intentions, desire to remain in or return to a caregiving relationship, living arrangements required, barriers to finding suitable accommodation, and other challenges to successful transition.

Stories of aftercare services and support needs after leaving care: a snapshot from the Stories of Resourcing and Resourcefulness project

Skattebol J, Hamilton M, Thomson C, Blaxland M and Valentine K
Sydney, NSW : Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, 2018.
Many young people who leave out-of-home care struggle to access the support and resources they require for independent living. This report provides insights into these young people's experiences of accessing services in New South Wales, presented in the form of quotes and short case studies. It presents preliminary findings from a larger three-year study, focusing on a smaller sample of 22 young people aged 12 to 26 years old who had left care and were using aftercare or other services. In particular, it focuses on the pathways young people take before accessing aftercare services, and their experience of using aftercare services. These young people's stories reveal the fragmented and crisis-orientated nature of services, and their limited knowledge of aftercare services. All of these young people describe how earlier support from aftercare services would have alleviated many of the difficulties they faced when first leaving care.

From aspiration to opportunity: developing independence in out-of-home care settings

Coddou M and Borlagdan J
Fitzroy, Vic. : Brotherhood of St Laurence, 2018.
The Certificate I in Developing Independence is an accredited foundation level course in Victoria for 15-25 year olds who are service-connected and do not have the necessary personal, family and social networks to engage in formal education and training. This report evaluates stage 2 of a trial of the course with one key group at risk of a poor transition to adulthood - young people in residential care. Stage 1 of the pilot identified several areas for improvement, in particular the need for a preparatory program to develop student readiness and relationships to increase enrolments. Stage 2 incorporated these recommendations, and was trialled again with 34 students in 2017. The evaluation looked at how the young people engaged with the course and the opportunities it offered, how the course supported student capability expansion, how the course integrated into residential care settings and influenced staff culture and practice, and young people's engagement in planning around their futures and goal setting. This report discusses the findings and makes recommendations for further development.

Operation and experience: formative evaluation of the 'Transition from Care to Independence Service'

Oranga Tamariki Evidence Centre (New Zealand), New Zealand. Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children
Wellington N.Z. : Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children, 2018.
The New Zealand Government is currently designing a new national transition service to support young people to grow into flourishing adults. To help inform this project, a formative evaluation of two existing services in Auckland was commissioned. The two 'Transition from Care to Independence' (TCI) services - 'Launch' and 'Ka Awatea' - provide a range of services as well as practical support throughout the transition period, such as helping young people get their driver's licence and find somewhere to live. The evaluation sought to understand how the services were operating on-the-ground, along with the experiences of those involved in its delivery, key success factors, and any challenges faced. Interviews were held with a range of stakeholders, including 15 young people, 10 staff members, 6 social workers, and government representatives.

Homelessness in Western Australia: a review of the research and statistical evidence

Kaleveld L, Seivwright A, Box E, Callis Z and Flatau P
Hawthorn, Vic. : Distributed by Australian Policy Online, 2018.
This report provides an overview of homelessness in Western Australia, including its scale and characteristics, key drivers and causes, the effectiveness of current approaches, and gaps in services and in the evidence. The report concludes by considering the potential path forward for addressing homelessness in Western Australia, and the strategic target areas for future responses. Chapters include: measuring homelessness, a profile of homelessness in Western Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics measures, Specialist Homelessness Services Data, homelessness among children and teenagers, deinstitutionalisation and homelessness risks for young people, the drivers of adult homelessness, a profile of Indigenous homelessness, the health and justice dimensions, the costs of homelessness, evidence-based principles for effective homelessness interventions, planning responses to homelessness in Western Australia, priority groups for Western Australia identified in homelessness measures, how the sector is doing in terms of meeting needs in Western Australia, and the way forward.

The impact of transitional programmes on post-transition outcomes for youth leaving out-of-home care : a meta-analysis.

Heerde J, Hemphill S and Scholes-Balog K
Health and Social Care in the Community v. 26 no. 1 Jan 2018: e15-e30
This article reviews the literature on the impact of transitional programmes on young people leaving care. It considers programmes for young people aged 15-24 years old and outcomes regarding housing and homelessness, living independently, school completion and post-secondary education, employment, mental health, and substance use. Nineteen studies were identified, all from the United States, but further research is needed.

Beyond 18, The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care: Wave 1 research report - transition planning and preparation

Muir S and Hand K
Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2018.
The Victorian Government has commissioned a study to learn more about the factors associated with successful transitions from out-of-home care. 'Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care' will feature case file analysis as well as annual surveys of young people as they make the transition. This report presents findings from the first annual survey, investigating young people's preparations for leaving out-of-home care, including involvement in formal transition planning, school completion, education planning, the development of independent living skills, and accessing services. 202 young people aged 16-19 years old took part. The findings suggest that state legislation and practice guidelines were not often followed and that young people were frequently not involved in formal, structured planning about their future. Some of this appears to be related to caseworkers' focus on meeting young people's most urgent needs, such as having somewhere to live when they leave care, rather than other important but less pressing forms of transition preparation. Future research reports will detail young people's post-care outcomes and the factors influencing their outcomes.

Rates of homelessness among young people in Queensland

Queensland. Family and Child Commission
Brisbane, Qld. : Queensland Family & Child Commission, 2018.
This paper outlines what is known about the rate of homelessness among young people in Queensland, with reference to limitations in the data. It also highlights the over-representation of young people who have had child protection involvement and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. According to the 2016 Census, 4,454 young people aged 12-24 years were homeless in Queensland, and 2016-17 data reveals that 8,081 young people aged 15-24 years accessed specialist homelessness services. The implications for policy are briefly discussed.

Young people leaving care

Western Australia. Office of the Auditor General
Perth : Office of the Auditor General, Western Australia, 2018.
This audit assesses whether the Western Australian Department of Communities is effectively supporting young people in care to transition successfully into independent living. The Department is required to help a child prepare for leaving care and to provide support after they have left care, until they reach the age of 25, with accommodation, education and training, employment, and health care. This audit investigates whether the Department is clear about what it needs to deliver, whether children and young people are getting the support they need, and whether support services are making a positive difference. This report discusses the findings and presents recommendations for the Department's policy and practice. It finds that though support services can make a positive difference, most young people are not accessing them due to limited service capacity. A response from the Department is included.

Churchill Fellowship to investigate programs for young people leaving care that prevent homelessness

Gough S
Acton, A.C.T. : The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia, 2017
Young people transitioning from care in Australia face a high risk of homelessness. This study investigated programs, policy and service responses for young people transitioning from care overseas, to help inform the work of the Department for Communities in Western Australia. Supported by a Winston Churchill Fellowship, the author visited organisations and networks across Canada and New Zealand to look at approaches for preventing homelessness and supporting transition - for First Nations young people in particular. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the study. Recommendations include raising the age of support to 25 and promoting culture in services aimed at Aboriginal young people.

Submission by Philip Mendes and Jade Purtell (Department of Social Work, Monash University) to National Children's Commissioner Roundtable on 'Young Parents and Their Children' with a particular focus on young people transitioning from out-of-home care who become early parents (i.e. where the State Parent becomes the state Grandparent)

Mendes P and Purtell J
Sydney, N.S.W. : Australian Human Rights Commission, 2017.
The National Children's Commissioner is currently undertaking an examination into young parents and their children, and has invited community feedback. This document presents a submission from Philip Mendes and Jade Purtell of Monash University, focusing on the issue of young people transitioning from out-of-home care who become parents. Their submission present key findings from the Australian and international research literature on young people transitioning from out-of-home care who experience early pregnancy and parenthood. It discusses the over-representation of care leavers in teenage parenthood, the contributing factors to this over-representation, and the policy and practice reforms that are likely to lead to improved outcomes for care leavers.

An evaluation of housing outcomes from a support program for young people transitioning from out-of-home care in Victoria, Australia.

Mendes P and Purtell J
Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care v. 16 no. 2 2016: 1-16
The Stand By Me is a Victorian programme for care leavers at risk of homelessness. It is based on a British scheme where ongoing support is provided by Personal Advisers who remain available to assist young people until 21 years of age. This article presents findings from an evaluation of the programme and highlights key components of the program, including the development of trusting relationships between workers and young people and holistic wrap around support.

A digital world for all?: findings from a programme of digital inclusion for vulnerable young people across the UK

Wilson G and Grant A
Dunfermline Scotland : Carnegie UK Trust, 2017.
"In 2015, the Carnegie UK Trust launched #NotWithoutMe to develop evidence and test innovative engagement techniques to improve digital skills and literacy among vulnerable young people across the UK. Whilst our longterm goal is optimistic, our objective for this programme was far more reserved. Rather than expect transformational outcomes of success for the young people involved, such as gaining employment or further education, we wanted to understand the process of designing and delivering 'digital inclusion' projects with different vulnerable groups. The following report details the main aspects of the #NotWithoutMe programme, key learnings and resulting recommendations for practitioners, policymakers and academics."

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

Fryar G, Jordan E and DeVooght K
Bethesda, MD : Child Trends, 2017.
It is important to understand how state child welfare agencies around the United States are working with young people transitioning to adulthood. This report summarises findings from a survey of Independent Living Coordinators from across the country about the types and range of services and supports they offer. Participants were asked about the maximum age young people can stay in foster care; the age young people typically leave foster care; extended foster care policies; service eligibility and restrictions; and available supports and services across six key domains: post-secondary education; employment and career development; financial capability; securing safe, stable, and affordable housing; accessing and managing health and mental health care; and establishing permanent relationships with supportive adults. Participants were also asked whether they are using any research-based programs or practices. The findings provide a snapshot of the services and supports available, and gaps in service provision.

Evaluation of the Berry Street Stand by Me Program: wraparound support during the transition from out-of-home care

Purtell J, Mendes P, Baidawi S and Inder B
Richmond, Vic. : Berry Street Victoria Inc., 2017.
This is the final report of the evaluation of the Stand By Me program of intensive, holistic, and flexible support for young people transitioning from out-of-home care. The program was trialled in Melbourne's North Western metropolitan region between January 2013 and December 2015 by service provider Berry Street Victoria, and is adapted from the British Personal Adviser model. The program targeted young people who have had the most adverse pre-care experiences - the group of care leavers often observed to have the poorest long-term outcomes and the group least likely to access and receive transitional services as their complex needs and challenging behaviour are typically incompatible with the design of the mainstream leaving care system. The evaluation aimed to investigate how well the Personal Advisor model could be translated to the Victorian context, whether the intended short- and longer-term benefits were achieved, client experiences, use of time and financial resources, key effective elements, and the overall viability of the model as an investment for government. This final report follows on from an Interim Report in 2014 detailing the program's development and its early implementation.

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

Fryar G, Jordan E and DeVooght K
Washington, D.C. : Child Trends, 2017.
Across the states of America, child welfare agencies are offering a wide range of services and supports to youth who are in foster care or have recently aged out of foster care. Drawing on a national survey of state-based Independent Living Coordinators, this report provides information on available services, local eligibility criteria, state trends, use of the evidence-base, and examples of innovation and success, focusing on six service domains critical to successful transitions to adulthood: post-secondary education; employment and career development; financial capability; securing safe, stable, and affordable housing; accessing and managing health and mental health care; and establishing permanent relationships with supportive adults. This report summarises the key findings and national similarities and differences in services. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the Better Housing Coalition and the Children's Home Society of Virginia.

The views of NSW children and young people in out-of-home care: NSW results from the National Out-of-Home Care and NSW Residential Care surveys

Robertson C, Laing K, Butler M and Soliman R
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Family and Community Services, FACS Analysis and Research, 2017.
This report presents findings from two state-wide surveys of children in care in New South Wales. The Family and Community Services department conducted two surveys in 2015 with children and young people aged 8-17 years old in care: the NSW Residential Care Survey and the New South Wales component of the new National OOHC Survey. Both surveys report against key factors that influence outcomes for children and young people and enable data to be reported against the child-reported measures of National Standards for Out of Home Care: sense of security; participation; community activity; family connection; family contact; sense of community; children have a significant adult; and leaving care. State and national findings are compared, and information provided on age, gender, Aboriginality, type and duration of current placement, and time spent in care. As well as informing planning, the surveys also provide a valuable opportunity to initiate conversations with children and young people about various aspects of their life, which could contribute to their case plan review and be used to set goals for the year ahead. Overall, the findings are generally encouraging across all types of care.

Specialist homelessness services annual report 2016-17

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2017.
This web resource describes the services and clients of specialist homelessness services provided by the government in Australia in 2016/17. Data from the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection. Sections include: Policy framework for reducing homelessness and service response; Clients, services and outcomes; Clients in regional and remote areas; Unmet demand for specialist homelessness services; Client groups of interest; Indigenous clients; Clients experiencing domestic and family violence; Clients with disability; Young people presenting alone; Older clients; Clients with a current mental health issue; Clients leaving care; Clients exiting custodial arrangements; and Children on care and protection orders. Client numbers increased 3% from the previous year to over 288,000.

'There's more to be done - 'sorry' is just a word' : legacies of out-of-home care in the 20th century.

Fernandez E, Lee J, Foote W, Blunden H, McNamara P, Kovacs S and Cornefert P
Children Australia v. 42 no. 3 Sep 2017: 176-197
This article explores the experiences of care leavers who had lived in orphanages and other such institutions between 1930 and 1989 in Australia, focusing on their experiences in care, experiences of maltreatment, leaving care, life outcomes after care, coping strategies and resilience, current service needs and usage, and participation in organisations as well as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It draws on interviews, surveys, and focus groups with child migrants, members of the 'Forgotten Australians', and members of the Stolen Generations and Child Migrants. The findings highlight the extreme neglect and abuse experienced by children in care and its life long impact. The implications for policy, practice and services are discussed.

The complexities of cultural support planning for Indigenous children in and leaving out-of-home care : the views of service providers in Victoria, Australia.

Baidawi S, Mendes P and Saunders B
Child and Family Social Work v. 22 no. 2 May 2017: 731-740
There are various policy and legislative initiatives in Victoria to support the connection between Indigenous children and young people in state care and their culture and community. This article explores cultural support planning for Indigenous young people leaving care, drawing on focus groups with seven child and family welfare agencies. It investigates the impacts, barriers, benefits, and limitations of cultural support planning, the shortcomings of current systems, tensions in the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous agencies, and disinterest by some Indigenous young people in connecting to their culture and community. Strategies to improve service delivery were also discussed.

Paying attention to the future: piloting the Certificate 1 in Developing Independence in out-of-home care settings

Hart A, Borlagdan J and Mallett S
Fitzroy, Vic. : Brotherhood of St Laurence, 2017.
The Certificate I in Developing Independence is an accredited foundation level course in Victoria for 16-25 year olds who are service-connected and do not have the necessary personal, family and social networks to engage in formal education and training. It has previously been run with young people who were at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness, and in 2015 the community service organisations Berry Street and the Child Protection Society approached the Brotherhood of St Laurence to trial the program with young people in out of home care - a group at risk of a poor transition to adulthood. A pilot has now been trialled in several locations around Melbourne. This report presents the findings of stage 1 of the evaluation, focusing on implementation and engagement issues, which aims to identify viable strategies for enrolment and completion.
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