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.

See more resources on Leaving care in the AIFS library catalogue

Accommodating transition: improving housing outcomes for young people leaving OHC

Martin R, Cordier R, Jau J, Randall S, Thoresen S, Ferrante A, Chavulak J, Morris S, Mendes P, Liddiard M, Johnson G and Chung D
Melbourne : Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, 2021.
This report investigates the service use and needs of young people who leave out-of-home care in Victoria and Western Australia. More broadly, it aims to help inform efforts to design effective services and supports to address housing insecurity. The study draws on administrative linked data for all young people who left care in 2013 or 2014 as well as interviews with care leavers aged between 18 and 25 and service providers. It examines: young people's housing, homelessness, mental health, alcohol and drug, and juvenile justice service delivery pathways; what strategies and supports enable young people to obtain and maintain stable housing; how service providers coordinate and tailor supports; and opportunities to improve services and enhance coordination between housing and other sectors in improve transition planning. The findings highlight the high rate of homelessness and use of specialist homeless services by care leavers, and poor preparation for leaving care. Policy options are also discussed, including the need to raise the age of leaving care.

Systematic review and meta-analysis of policies, programmes and interventions that improve outcomes for young people leaving the out-of-home care system

Taylor D, Mann G, Chakraborty S, Lewis J, Mendes P, Macdonald G, Williams K and Shlonsky A
London : What Works for Children's Social Care, 2021.
This report investigates the effectiveness of policies, programmes and interventions that aim to improve outcomes for care leavers transitioning into adult living arrangements. It presents a systematic review and meta-analysis aims of the international literature. Young people leaving care face an increased risk of poor outcomes, and many interventions have been developed to try to improve housing, health, education, economic, employment, violence, relationships and life skills outcomes, such as through coaching and peer support, independent living services, and extended care policies. However, the review found too few studies to determine 'what works'.

Where is the village? Care leaver early parenting, social isolation and surveillance bias.

Purtell J, Mendes P and Saunders B
International Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice v. 4 no. 3 2021: 349-371
Young people leaving care face higher rates of early parenting than other young Australians, placing them also at higher risk of poverty and child protection involvement. This article explores the risk factors and supports available in Victoria, drawing on consultations with 16 service providers. The workers highlighted how the lack of support provided during transition can lead to both early parenting and parenting challenges, as well as the personal challenges and social isolation they face - all issues also echoed in the research literature. They also raised the issue of surveillance bias, with these young people facing greater scrutiny by child protection services than other parents.

Nga Haerenga - Transition Journeys: Phase one, Voices of rangatahi anticipating the move from statutory care to self-determined living

Schroder R
Wellington, NZ : Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children, 2021.
Each year in New Zealand, approximately 600 young people aged 15-18 transition out of statutory care or custody into more independent or self determined living arrangements. A new longitudinal study has begun into how this transition is experienced, including young people's goals and outcomes and the things that help or hinder them along the way. This report presents high level findings from the first year of the study, with interviews with 44 young people 1-6 months prior to leaving care. About half the participants are male, nearly 60% are Maori, and a quarter were living in a Youth Justice residence. The young people shared their aspirations and expectations, as well as their concerns and needs. While some look forward to the day they are finally independent, and a few felt relatively well placed to move on, most do not. Three factors for success were highlighted: personal strengths, such as resilience and social skills; good connections with family, support networks, and culture; and security and certainty, regarding income, food, housing and transport.

Report on the leaving care monitoring program 2020-21

New South Wales. Office of the Children's Guardian
Strawberry Hills, N.S.W. : Office of the Children's Guardian, 2021
This report looks at the experiences of young people leaving care in New South Wales, to help strengthen requirements for statutory out-of-home care providers. Leaving care records were reviewed for 635 young people who turned 18 in 2020 - more in-depth reviews were undertaken for 169 of the young people. The review found that most of the young people had a leaving care plan and had participated in its development. However, plans varied in quality, timing, and approval, and few of those for Aboriginal young people addressed culture. Many young people continued to receive some casework support after turning 18, but this was often to follow up on leaving care tasks that had not yet been completed. This review was completed by the New South Wales Children's Guardian, as one of its monitoring and oversight duties.

Income support receipt for young people transitioning from out-of-home care

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021.
Little is known about the service use of young people who have been in care. This report aims to help build the evidence base by examining these young people's receipt of different welfare payments. It links national Centrelink and child welfare administrative data from each state and territory, and compares young people with and without care experience. The study finds that young people who have been in care have higher and longer patterns of welfare receipt. Nearly 3 in 5 of these young people received income support payments, compared with 1 in 5 of other young people, and young people who had left care were less likely to remain on student payments and more likely to remain on unemployment. These young people also received Crisis Payments 12 times higher, Disability Support Pensions 5 times higher, and parenting or unemployment payments 4 times higher than other young people.

Leaving care planning: what are the views of young people in out-of-home care?

New South Wales. Dept. of Communities and Justice. FACS Insights, Analysis and Research
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Communities and Justice, 2021.
Young people leaving care are one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society. This paper looks at what young people think about the leaving care support they receive in New South Wales. It summarises findings from two state-wide surveys of children in care from 2018: the NSW Residential Care Survey and the New South Wales component of the new National OOHC Survey. It also discusses the implications for policy and practice and provide links to resources for practitioners. Though the two surveys differed in how positive the young people were about the support they received, both groups said they needed more support for education and work, managing money, accessing legal services, and staying in touch with family, friends and culture.

Supporting care experienced young people into higher education

Colvin E and Knight E
Bathurst. N.S.W. : Charles Sturt University, 2021.
Research has found that care-leavers are less likely to attain educational qualifications, much less likely to enrol in university, and those who do enrol face significant challenges that affect their studies. This report explores this issue further, focusing on the availability of education and career information and supports for secondary students. It draws on a review of the education sector and consultation with career and education sector professionals. The study finds there is a systemic lack of understanding of the needs of care-experienced students in higher education and a significant gap in post-school transition planning, as well as multiple significant barriers to accessing appropriate career information.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) young people leaving out-of-home care in Australia : a national scoping study.

Mendes P, Standfield R, Saunders B, McCurdy S, Walsh J and Turnbull L
Children and Youth Services Review v. 121 Feb 2021: Article 105848
This article highlights findings from a recent study into the experiences and service needs of Indigenous children and young people exiting from out of home care in Australia. The study involved focus groups and interviews with 53 representatives of government departments, non-government organisations, and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, and investigated the number of Indigenous young people leaving care, their needs and outcomes, and current policies and programs. The study found that Indigenous care leavers have unique experiences and needs, but specific funding and resources are limited, and little is known about their numbers and outcomes. Recommendations are made for data collection, funding, and culturally appropriate services.

Towards Independent Adulthood Trial evaluation: final report

ACIL Allen Consulting, Australia. Dept. of Social Services
Canberra, A.C.T. : Dept. of Social Services, 2020
The Australian Government's Towards Independent Adulthood is a wrap-around program for young care leavers that aims to support their transition and overcome barriers to housing, education, and employment. A three-year trial is being conducted with 80 young people from sites in Western Australia. This report presents an evaluation of the trial, including recruitment and engagement, services and supports, program fidelity, benefits for young people, success factors and replicability, cost-benefit analysis, and how it compares to similar initiatives. The learnings for other leaving care support programs are discussed.

Evaluation of the Premier's Youth Initiative: final report

Taylor D, Roberts J, Rose V, Gyani A, Harrigan S and Shlonsky A
Ashfield, N.S.W. : NSW Dept. of Communities and Justice, 2020.
This report presents the evaluation of an initiative to prevent homelessness in young people leaving care in New South Wales. One of the 2015 Premier's Priorities sought to increase the proportion of young people who successfully move from specialist homelessness services to long-term accommodation by 2019. The Premier's Youth Initiative pilot program has been trialled for 4 years, and provides a combination of personal advice, education and employment mentoring, transitional accommodation support, and long-term accommodation. The evaluation found promising results, though largely for young people with a history of homelessness while they were in out-of-home care. However, though program providers adapted the model to meet the needs of young people, they and their young clients struggled to deal with entrenched system challenges. The impact on social connectedness, education, employment, physical and mental health, and living skills was also briefly examined.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander care-leaver experiences: findings from the 2020 CREATE National Survey 'Transitioning to adulthood from out-of-home care - independence or interdependence?'

McDowall J
Sydney, N.S.W. : CREATE Foundation, 2020.
A study was recently conducted into the state of planning for leaving care, with a survey of 325 care leavers aged 18-25 from across Australia. This paper highlights findings from the 72 Indigenous young people who took part. The paper looks at key areas of concern, supports and services that needed improvement, and use of supports for cultural connection and young parenthood.

Transitioning to adulthood from out-of-home care: independence or interdependence? - key messages.

CREATE Foundation
Sydney, N.S.W. : CREATE Foundation, 2020.
This paper highlights key findings from a new study on young people leaving care. It looks at how much planning the young people received and their outcomes upon first leaving care. The survey was conducted in 2018 with 325 young people aged 18-25 across Australia. The paper highlights findings concerning care history and stability, consultation about changes, leaving school early, health and life skill needs, involvement with youth justice, transition planning, access to personal documents, sources of support, accommodation and homelessness, source of income, living with or contacting family members, future goals, and Indigenous people.

Transitioning to adulthood from out-of-home care: independence or interdependence?

McDowall J
Sydney, NSW : CREATE Foundation, 2020.
A 2009 study of young people leaving care found that many were unprepared - this new report investigates whether transition planning has improved over the last decade. It compares findings from the 2009 survey with findings from a 2018 survey of 325 young people aged 18-25 with experience of the care system. Participants were asked about their key issues, care experiences, leaving care preparation, after care support, educational support, life skills, health needs, youth justice involvement, access to personal documents, the leaving care experience, accommodation and homelessness, employment and finances, family connections, and support for parenting. Five key areas of concern emerged, regarding transitioning supports, caseworker turnover and training, carer training and commitment, placement stability and safety, and involvement in decision-making.

The experiences of older youth in & aged out of foster care during COVID-19

Greeson J
Philadelphia, PA : Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research, University of Pennsylvania, 2020.
Although COVID-19 affects everyone, it is especially harmful to members of social groups in the most vulnerable situations, including youth in foster care and those who have recently exited care. This report looks into the experiences of these young people in America and makes recommendations for policy support - in regards to COVID-19 and disasters more broadly, as well as child welfare in general. It draws on a survey of 281 young people between the ages of 18 and 23 from across the United States, regarding their housing, food security, education, employment, finance, health, mental health, and personal connections over one month of the COVID-19 crisis. It calls for older youth in foster care to be connected to services and caring adults during disasters, and, in times of no disaster, for increases in the frequency of contact with friends and family members whenever possible.

National Youth in Transition Database: report to Congress

United States. Administration for Children and Families
Washington, D.C. : Administration for Children and Families, 2020
This report provides information on the experiences and outcomes of young people leaving care in the United States, with a particular focus on comparing young people who exited before 17 years of age with those who were still in care at 19 and 21. Data is taken from the National Youth in Transition Database survey, for the second cohort who were aged 17 in 2014 and surveyed again in 2016 and 2018. The survey is a government requirement, and looks at the reasons for entry into foster care, length of stay, number of placement settings, case goal, discharge reasons, differences between states, and the placement and individual characteristics associated with poor outcomes. The survey shows that 19- and 21-year-olds who were in foster care fared better overall and reported fewer challenging outcomes than their counterparts who had exited care earlier, as well as a lower likelihood of homelessness or incarceration. Having a trusted adult in their lives also played a role. The findings underscore the importance of providing supports to youth who may be particularly vulnerable to challenging outcomes as well as the protective role of foster for many young people.

Extending care to 21 years: the case for Queensland : a report drawing from Deloitte Access Economics' analyses of extended care commissioned by Anglicare Victoria and the Home Stretch Campaign NSW.

Home Stretch (Campaign)
Victoria : Home Stretch, 2020.
The Home Stretch Campaign is advocating to extend the age of eligibility for care from 18 to 21 years of age across Australia. As at March 2020, state governments in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia have made commitments in support of this goal. This paper draws on research from other Australian states and overseas on the economic benefits of this measure for individuals and society, to highlight the importance of this issue for Queensland.

Maximising impact: baseline results from a longitudinal study of new tenants in social housing

Taylor S, Johnson G, Watson J and Tyrrell E
Melbourne : Unison Housing, 2020.
The Maximising Impact study of social housing tenants aims to determine which factors contribute to tenancy sustainment and tenancy satisfaction, as well as community and economic participation. This report presents findings from the baseline survey, which was conducted with 170 new tenants between May 2018 and April 2020. The survey provides information on their characteristics and experiences, including education, income, employment and financial stress, physical well-being, psychological well-being and trauma, drugs and alcohol, violence and safety, and social support. The report also considers how characteristics vary to that of the general population and between those who had experienced homelessness but who had stayed with friends or refuges and those who had slept rough or squatted. The findings highlight the severe and chronic disadvantage of these tenants, including high rates of housing instability and homelessness, long-term disengagement from the labour market, chronic health condition and poor mental health, and a history of out of home care.

Findings from the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH): conditions of youth at age 23

Courtney M
Chicago, Il. : Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, 2020.
This report looks at the impact of extending foster care supports past the age of 18. Recognizing that this age was too young for most youth to be without support, California introduced new law in 2010 giving eligible youth the option to remain in foster care and receive services and supports until age 20. The California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH) has been following the progress of a sample of young people in care in 2012, aged 16/17. It investigates: whether extending foster care past age 18 influence youths' outcomes during the transition to adulthood; the factors that influence the types of support youth receive; and how living arrangements and other services that result from extending foster care influence the relationship between extending care and youth outcomes. This report checks in with them again at the age of 23, now that they have been out of the care system for 2 years. The study finds that on average these young people are still faring poorly compared to their age peers across many measures of well-being, including their educational attainment, employment, economic self-sufficiency, physical and mental health, and involvement with the criminal justice system. However, the findings suggest that gender, race, and ethnicity condition these youths' experiences, as they do for all young people in America. Most of the young adults looked back favorably on their experience of care, and were generally satisfied with the life skills training and services they received.

Interventions in out-of-home care: an updated evidence and gap map

Watt E and Jakob L
Ashfield, NSW : Family and Communities Services Insights, Analysis and Research, 2020.
This report provides a review of the evidence on the impact of different types of out of home care interventions on children's outcomes. The findings have been mapped to create an interactive website on what is known about 'what works' and the gaps in the evidence: this report summarises the methodology of the systematic search and its findings. Interventions include: carer training and support, child-centred therapy, therapeutic foster care, attachment-based interventions, school readiness support, youth behavioural change, leaving care and aftercare support, and restoration support. Outcomes include: parenting capacity, safety, permanency, cultural belonging, supportive relationships, self-determination, healthy lifestyles, physical health, mental health, school readiness, and employment and training. The review found that most studies looked at mental health, with only limited evidence on cultural belonging. Note, this review updates and expands an earlier one undertaken in 2017.

Keep caring: systemic inquiry into services for young people transitioning from out-of-home care

Victoria. Commission for Children and Young People
Melbourne, Vic. : Commission for Children and Young People, 2020.
This inquiry examines the needs and aspirations of young people leaving care in Victoria and the capacity of the system to respond. When the state assumes the responsibility and obligation to act as a parent to a child in care, it must do more than simply meeting the basic needs of a child until they turn 18. The inquiry looks into: the lived experience of transitioning from care; the education, health, mental health and housing needs and aspirations of young people leaving care; the short to medium life trajectories of these young people, including living arrangements and engagement with social and health services, homelessness services, education and training, and the criminal justice system; and the application of Victorian Government policies and guidelines regarding planning and preparation for leaving care. It draws on consultations with young people and stakeholders and a review of case files and quantitative data. The inquiry finds the out-of-home care system is not doing enough to help young people plan and prepare for their transition to independence, and makes 15 recommendation for improvement.

Care leavers, ambiguous loss and early parenting : explaining high rates of pregnancy and parenting amongst young people transitioning from out-of-home care.

Purtell J, Mendes P and Saunders B
Children Australia v. 45 no. 4 Dec 2020: 241-248
This article explores the high prevalence of pregnancy among care leavers. It discusses the literature on the association between the transition from care and early parenting, with reference to Boss's 2010 Ambiguous Loss theory, which contends that young people with experiences of child protection involvement and placement in out-of-home care may experience enduring feelings of loss associated with removal from their family, as well as from any placement instability. Sections in the article include: Prevalence of care leaver early parenting; Care leavers, removal from family and Ambiguous Loss theory; Reconnecting with family: choice or necessity?; Disenfranchised loss and grief; Relationships with family and social and community connections; The social exclusion of bureaucratic care; Pathways to care leavers' early parenting; The 'emotional void': wanted pregnancies and school as a preventative factor; Protective interventions: surveillance bias or support?; Poverty and protective interventions; Child removal and repeat pregnancies; Parenting support and 'turning lives around'; Extended care; Blaming the victim: exploitation and coercion; and Sex education and pregnancy prevention.

Interpretative phenomenological analysis of young people's lived experiences of therapeutic residential care.

Kor K, Fernandez E and Spangaro J
Child and Family Social Work 18 Aug 2020: Advance online publication
This article explores the experiences of young people in therapeutic residential care in Australia. The finding highlight issues of peer victimisation, loss, and uncertainty during transitions, and suggest that more work is required to therapeutic residential care settings a safe and healing environment. The findings also provide insights for practitioners working with families and in leaving care supports.

'It was daunting - I was 18 and I left residential care and there was no support whatsoever' : a scoping study into the transition from out-of-home-care process in Tasmania, Australia.

O'Donnell R, MacRae A, Savaglio M, Vicary D, Green R, Mendes P, Kerridge G, Currie G, Diamond S and Skouteris H
Children Australia v. 45 no. 4 Dec 2020: 296-304
This article explores the challenges of leaving care - and how it could be improved - from the perspectives of young people and staff in Tasmania. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 33 young people in care, young people who had left care, carers, caseworkers, and senior executives, regarding the challenges surrounding the transition process and opportunities for improvement. Together, the participants identified four key challenges: inadequate processes underpinning the transition; instability within the family unit; financial challenges; and a lack of independence during care. The participants agreed that greater support during the transition process is necessary, including life-skills training while in care and after-care support through a post-care worker or mentor.

Young people transitioning from out-of-home care : what are the lessons from extended care programmes in the USA and England for Australia?

Mendes P and Rogers J
British Journal of Social Work v. 50 no. 5 Jul 2020: 1513-1530
This article reviews evaluations of extended care programmes for young people in out of home care in the United States and England, including the strengths and limitations of these programmes and the issue of eligibility criteria. It then considers the implications for policy development in Australia, where extended care programmes have only recently been introduced. Issues include the factors for success and the cross-cultural and policy context differences that may affect the effectiveness of such programmes here.

Indigenous care leavers in Australia: a national scoping study : final report

Mendes P, Saunders B, McCurdy S, Walsh J, Turnbull L and Armstrong E
Hawthorn, Vic. : Distributed by Australian Policy Online, 2020.
This report adds to what is known about the numbers, experiences and services of Indigenous children and young people exiting from out of home care in Australia, and makes recommendations for policy, program and service provision. It draws on focus groups and interviews with 53 professionals from government departments, non-government organisations, and Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations, regarding the number of Indigenous young people leaving care in each state and territory, existing policies and programs aiming to support this group in each jurisdiction, key challenges and outcomes for Indigenous young people transitioning from care, funding, service system failures, and good practice in supporting Indigenous young people transitioning from care. The findings highlight the significant gaps in data collection and inadequacies in service funding, leaving care plans, and workforce issues, as well as the challenges facing the young people in transitioning to independence. However, examples of good practice can also be seen.

Raising Expectations

Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Firm)
Melbourne : Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, 2020
The 'Raising Expectations' initiative is a cross-sector collaboration between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, the Victorian government, and 3 universities that aims to increase the participation and achievement of young people from out-of-home care in vocational and higher education. This brochure summarises the findings from a social return on investment analysis of the initiative, undertaken by Deloitte. The analysis evaluated program returns relative to administration costs, from 2016 to 2019. The analysis found the social and economic benefits of the program substantially outweigh the costs of assisting young care leavers: for every dollar invested, an estimated minimum of $1.80 is returned in benefits. The full report is available from the program upon request.

Preparing young people to leave care during COVID-19.

Mendes P and Waugh J
27 May 2020
This webinar will explore the potential impact of COVID-19 on young care leavers, and strategies to strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing. Young people leaving care face many challenges. Past webinars have explored these issues, looking at young people's experiences of leaving care and how they could be better supported by extending care. In the wake of COVID-19, there is growing concern that young people leaving care will face even greater challenges. This webinar will reflect on past presentations and current responses in considering what may help support young care leavers during this pandemic. Recognising the increased risks of social isolation and psychological stress, presenters will discuss strategies to strengthen young people's social capital and improve their social and emotional wellbeing.

Place-based study: Sunshine Coast

Queensland. Family and Child Commission
Brisbane, Qld. : Queensland Family and Child Commission, 2020
This study looks into leaving care transition services in the Sunshine Coast region of Queensland. It investigates available services and supports, young people's participation in transition planning, facilitators and barriers to improved outcomes, and local partnerships, drawing on focus groups, interviews, site visits, administrative data, and a review of literature. The study found that the Sunshine Coast service system has many features that facilitate successful transition to independence outcomes for young people, though some barriers and opportunities were also identified.

Redesign of a homelessness service system for young people

MacKenzie D, Hand T, Zufferey C, McNelis S, Spinney A and Tedmanson D
Melbourne : Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, 2020.
This report investigates what measures could reduce youth homelessness and lead to improved outcomes for young people who experience homelessness. It is part of a broader project into a designing an effective homelessness service system in Australia. In particular, it examines innovative and successful approaches already in use across Australia to help identify: how policy makers might go about rebalancing the support system for vulnerable young people to significantly expand early intervention and post-homelessness rapid rehousing and supported housing for young people; what changes to housing agreements and policies, as well as income and employment support, would be needed to redress the current issues young people have in accessing and maintaining affordable housing options; and how the education and employment support systems and the community services/homelessness systems could be better integrated. Sections include: policy context; conceptualising youth homelessness as a social problem; community-level data analysis; organising community-level access; early intervention and prevention; an ecosystem of support services; exiting the homelessness service system and housing options; Indigenous perspectives; young people leaving state care; and policy development options.
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