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

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.

Stories of housing and home: a snapshot from the Stories of Resourcing and Resourcefulness project

Thomson C, Blaxland M, Skattebol J, Hamilton M and Valentine K
Sydney, NSW : Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, 2020.
This report explores the housing experiences of young people with complex needs in New South Wales. Findings are taken from the Stories of Resourcing and Resourcefulness study, a three-year study of how young people with complex service needs engage over time with both formal and informal resources. 44 young people aged between 13 to 26 years took part, recruited through frontline staff in a range of youth services. The participants discussed their experiences of different types of housing, the importance of home and of safety, drivers and impacts of housing instability, informal housing solutions, and their housing needs. The findings highlights how these young people's housing experiences reflect their complex histories, with few finding permanent, safe and stable housing options. In some circumstances, living with family or living in out-of-home care may be less safe and less stable than homelessness. Nevertheless, all young people demonstrated tenacity and dogged efforts to secure housing and establish themselves in a home.

Relationship-based practice and service system expertise to support young people transitioning from out-of-home care in Victoria: the Salvation Army Westcare Continuing Care program evaluation final report

Purtell J and Mendes P
Melbourne, Vic. : Monash University Department of Social Work, 2020.
This report describes an out of home care transition program from the western suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria. The Salvation Army's Continuing Care program provides relationship-based support to assist the planning, preparation and support needs of young people during their transition from out-of-home care to independent living. It involves training, referral, and support for independent living skills, education and employment, financial support, housing, and homelessness and crisis prevention, as well as addressing the anxiety of leaving care. This report discusses the context of transitioning from out of home care then presents findings from an evaluation of the program. The evaluation found that the program was able to utilise consistent and trusting relationships and networking to address potential barriers to successful transition, such as leaving care anxiety and limited communication between different support services and systems.

Changing lives : improving care leaver access to higher education.

Wilson J, Harvey A and Mendes P
Oxford Review of Education v. 45 no. 4 2019: 573-586
The 'Raising Expectations' initiative is a cross-sector collaboration between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, the Victorian government, and 2 universities that aims to increase the participation and achievement of young people from out-of-home care in vocational and higher education. This article describes the design and implementation of the initiative and highlights outcomes for enrolment, retention, and addressing the barriers to higher education.

The needs of LGBTIQ young people in out of home care

Cameron N, McPherson L, Gatwiri K and Parmenter N
Sydney, N.S.W. : Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care, 2019.
This paper provides an overview of the literature on the experiences and needs of young people in out of home care who are same sex attracted, trans or gender diverse. Topics include population estimates, experiences before and after care, and the kinds of supports that are needed. The international research indicates that LGBTIQ young people are over-represented in out-of-home care, are likely to have been exposed to more physical, emotional and sexual violence prior to being placed in care. and are also more vulnerable subsequent to leaving care. 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.

Telling a new coming-of-age story: mapping the gaps between expert and public understandings of transition age youth

Pineau M
Washington, DC : FrameWorks Institute, 2019.
This paper is part of a suite of resources to help experts and advocates communicate about the needs and issues of young people ageing out of the foster care system. The American public do have ways of thinking about the foster care system and adolescence. And, when asked about coming of age in the foster care system, they draws on these ways of thinking to understand what this might means. This report explores these ways of thinking, and uses the findings to produce a strategy for reframing the issue of transition age youth and what society must do to support them. It summarises findings from interviews with the public and experts and considers the cultural models that underlie how Americans understand and reason about adolescence and foster care. The first and most important finding from this research is that the very concept of transition age youth is missing in the public conscience: Americans don't recognize transition age youth as a discrete population with specific challenges and lack established ways of thinking about this group.

The views of children and young people in out-of-home care in NSW: results from the 2018 NSW Out-Of-Home Care and Residential Care Surveys

New South Wales. Dept. of Communities and Justice. Insights, Analysis and Research Unit
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Communities and Justice, 2019.
This report summarises findings from two recent surveys of children and young people in out-of-home care in New South Wales. In 2018, 322 children and young people took part in the NSW OOHC Survey and 143 took part in the NSW Residential Care Survey, with the data also being submitted to the recent National OOHC Survey. The findings are discussed thematically under the 8 indicators of the National Standards for OOHC: 'sense of security', 'participation', 'community activity', 'family connection', 'family contact', 'sense of community', 'significant person', and 'leaving care', and compared to findings from a previous similar survey in 2015. Overall, the findings are encouraging. However, children and young people in residential care report lower levels of inclusion, participation, and feeling safe and settled.

Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study - outcomes of children and young people in out-of-home care: Leaving Care Cohort (15-17 years) statistical report - experiences of young people who entered out-of-home care aged 9-14 years.

Burke S, Hopkins J, Paxman M, Zhou A and Butler M
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Family and Community Services, 2019.
This report looks at young people's readiness and needs for leaving out of home care in New South Wales. It presents information on a subset of young people in the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS), focusing on the 76 young people who entered out of home care during middle childhood and who are now aged 15-17 years old and will soon be leaving care. Topics include demographic characteristics, child protection histories, out of home care placements, child development scoring, behaviour problems, views on leaving care, likely living arrangements, ability to cope, concerns and needs, and preparation and planning. Data is taken from surveys in Waves 2 or 3 completed by the young people and their carers and case workers. The study found that over a third of these young people had clinical range behaviour problems, over half had below normal range language development, and just under half had below normal range non verbal reasoning. While most carers are happy to have the young people in their care stay on in the placement after they turn 18 years old, post-care planning varied across placement types and only around half of the young people had planning underway. Carers and caseworkers tended to report young people requiring support to a greater degree than the young people reported themselves.

Youth Ambassador Program report 2018-2019

Aboriginal Child Family and Community Care Secretariat (NSW) Inc.
Marrickville, NSW : AbSec, 2019.
The AbSec Youth Ambassador program (YAP) is an initiative to provide a platform for Aboriginal young people to engage with the child protection and out-of-home care sector in New South Wales. This document highlights the work of the Youth Ambassadors in the 2018/19 period and presents their work plan to advance three issues: permanency, housing, and a hotline service to provide information and support.

Safe and well: supporting families, protecting children - the Government of South Australia's strategy for keeping families and children safe and well

South Australia, South Australia. Dept. for Child Protection
Adelaide, S. Aust. : Department for Child Protection, 2019.
This document sets out the South Australian government's strategy to support families at risk of entering the child protection system, protect children from harm when they come into care, and invest in young people to leave care with opportunities for a bright future. 'Safe and well' provides a framework for all government agencies, non-government partners, and the community to understand how the government will organise and prioritise whole-of-government and system level reforms over the next three years to keep vulnerable children and families safe and well. The document explains the need for these reforms and describes actions for the next twelve months under the key focus areas of supporting, protecting and investing.

Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study - outcomes of children and young people in out-of-home care in NSW: Caseworker Survey statistical report.

Hopkins J, Paxman M, Zhou A, Watson J, Burke S and Butler M
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Family and Community Services, 2019.
This report provides a summary of data collected in the caseworker survey conducted as part of the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) In New South Wales. POCLS is the first large scale prospective longitudinal study on out-of-home care (OOHC) in Australia and will follow 4,126 children aged 0-17 years old entering OOHC in the state. To date, four Waves of data collection have been undertaken at 18-24 month intervals. The caseworker survey was completed between October 2014 and June 2016 as a part of Wave 3, and included caseworkers from both government and non-government organisations. Data was provided regarding 1,342 children. Topics include: child characteristics, case characteristics, placement, siblings, case plan goal, contact, parents' interest in restoration, knowledge of the parents and the carers, child's understanding of being in care and participation in case planning, placement breakdown, consultation about placement, concerns about child, school enrolment, changing schools, difficulties at school, education planning, child contact with birth parents and siblings, satisfaction with contact arrangements, supports and services received by birth parents towards restoration, and leaving care planning. The report concludes by noting what is working well and practices that need addressing.

Exploring outcomes for young people who have experienced out-of-home care

Lima F, Maclean M and O'Donnell M
Perth : Telethon Kids Institute, 2019.
Young people leaving the care system are at high risk of disadvantage, due to the significant and complex issues they have faced in childhood and the lack of supports available as they transition to independent adult life. This report was commissioned to learn more about the outcomes of young people leaving care in Western Australia. It compares the physical and mental health, school achievement, justice involvement, and child protection involvement of children who had been in care, children with at least one substantiated maltreatment allegation but no time in care, and children with no child protection contact. It draws on linked population data for children born between 1 January 1990 and 30 June 1995 in Western Australia, regarding hospital admissions, mental health diagnoses and service use, secondary education completion, further education, juvenile justice sentences, adult justice sentences, early pregnancy, and multiple adverse outcomes. The findings are consistent with those of studies from other jurisdictions, with young people who had been in care were more likely to have adverse outcomes than the other children. Young people who were Aboriginal, female, born in a more disadvantaged area, or first entered care after the age of 10 were particularly at risk. Note, these children had wide-ranging periods in care, from two days up to 18 years, so further analysis is needed into differences by time spent in care, age on entering and leaving care, and placement type.

Final report

Walters M and Barrow R
Baton Rouge, LA :Dept. of Children & Family Services, 2019.
This report presents the findings and recommendations of an inquiry into extending the age of foster care from 18 to 21 in Louisiana, USA. The inquiry focused on best program components to serve youth aging out of care, while at the same time determining feasibility of those services. The inquiry was established by the Louisiana Legislature in response to the ending of the Young Adult Program in 2013 and the recommendations of the 2016 Task Force on Youth Aging Out of Foster Care. The report discusses research on the poor outcomes of youth who exit foster care at age 18 and the improved outcomes of young people who stay in foster care past the age of 18, as well as current programs and policies in Louisiana. It then briefly considers the associated costs and revenues, eligibility requirements, and best practice. The inquiry concludes that Louisiana has a responsibility to continue supporting vulnerable youth who age out of the foster care system and presents this report to help support state leaders in considering how best to provide supports and services.

Supporting families, changing futures 2019-2023: the Queensland Government's plan for helping Queensland children, young people, parents and families experiencing vulnerability

Queensland, Queensland. Dept. of Child Safety, Youth and Women
Brisbane, Qld. : Dept. of Child Safety, Youth and Women, 2019.
This document outlines the Queensland Government's plan for enhancing services to children and families experiencing vulnerability. It represents the final phase of a 10-year 'Supporting Families Changing Futures' reform strategy, which was established in response to the recommendations of the 2013 Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry. The document highlights achievements from the last five years, reviews ongoing issues and stakeholder feedback, and details priorities and actions for the next five years. Particular issues are early intervention approaches, out of home care, and young people's transition from care. This new plan will focus on the four wellbeing outcomes of: safe, secure and stable; healthy; learning, earning and developing; and participating, belonging and identity.

Young people's experiences of leaving care and their support needs : recent research and promising practices.

Muir S, Purtell J and Limoges L
24 July 2019.
This webinar will discuss young people's experiences leaving care in Victoria, drawing on recent findings from the Beyond 18 longitudinal study, then will look at two examples of promising practice from New South Wales. In most Australian states and territories, out-of-home care arrangements still end when a young person turns 18 years old. For some care leavers, this can result in an abrupt transition into independent living at an age when many young people in the general population are still supported by their parents. Many care leavers also have complex histories of trauma or neglect that can hinder their social and emotional development. Young people need to be supported during this transition to adulthood to help them achieve better outcomes in employment, education and mental health. This webinar will share insights into young people's experiences of leaving care, including the challenges they faced when preparing to leave care, how they fared after they left care, and the supports they and other care leavers needed most. UnitingCare NSW/ACT is one organisation working to better support young care leavers during this transition, and their extended care pilot program and youth foyer project are good examples of promising practice.

Policy and practice supports for young people transitioning from out-of-home care : an analysis of six recent inquiries in Australia.

Mendes P and McCurdy S
Journal of Social Work 30 May 2019: Advance online publication
This article looks at whether recent government inquiries into child protection have addressed the issues of young people leaving care. It analyses the findings and recommendations of 6 state and national inquiries from Australia to evaluate their attention on programme and service supports for young people transitioning from out-of-home care, including how the issue is framed and the types of evidence drawn upon. The review finds that the inquiries unanimously agreed on the inadequacy of current legislation, policy and practice and the need for ongoing services and supports after a young person turns 18.

LGiU Homelessness Commission 2019: final report.

Walker A and Buszard A
London : LGiU, 2019.
This report presents the arguments and recommendations of the LGiU Local Government Homelessness Commission, which was established to investigate how councils in the United Kingdom can fulfil their obligation to prevent homelessness. It is the first assessment of the state of homelessness prevention in Great Britain from the perspective of local government, those who are tasked with actually implementing the policy and supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society. A series of four evidence sessions were held focussing on how councils use data as a homelessness prevention tool, strategies for supporting young people and other vulnerable groups, accessing sustainable accommodation, and finance and funding. Particular issues identified include the vast number of homeless people beyond rough sleepers, the benefits and challenges of the Homelessness Reduction Act, the growth of the private rental sector and low housing supply, and young people leaving care or forced from the family home. In its findings, the Commission argues that a proper housing and homelessness strategy is desperately needed, to address the underlying causes and give councils the powers and resources they need.

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, 2019.
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. This is the updated version of this report.

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.

Towards the social inclusion of young people transitioning from out-of-home care : an examination of the Home Stretch campaign.

Mendes P
Social Alternatives v. 37 no. 1 2013: 59-62
This article discusses Home Stretch, a campaign by Anglicare Victoria to lobby all State and Territory governments to extend the age at which young people can leave out of home care. Young people in out of home care face many challenges in their transition to independence and research from overseas indicates that young people who stay in care till an older age experience better outcomes. Young people must currently leave care by the age of 18, but the campaign aims to increase this to 21, better reflecting the ongoing support that young people living with their families would receive.

Extending care to 21 years in New South Wales

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Firm), Anglicare NSW, Home Stretch (Campaign). NSW Committee
Sydney, N.S.W. : Anglicare NSW, 2018.
The Home Stretch Campaign is advocating to extend the age of eligibility for care from 18 to 21 years of age in New South Wales. Young people leaving care are among the most vulnerable groups in Australia, and is related to the early and abrupt end to care that occurs when a young person reaches age 18. To support this campaign, this report analyses the costs and benefits of this proposal for individuals and the government. It compares the current leaving age and the extended leaving age with outcomes relating to housing, education and employment, early parenthood, hospitalisation, mental illness and wellbeing, justice system involvement, smoking, and alcohol and drug dependency. The analysis finds that extended care is a worthwhile investment not just for the benefits for individuals but for governments needing to pay less for support services relative to the cost extending care.
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