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

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.

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.

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.

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 v. 20 no. 5 2020: 599-619
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.

The rights of children in the child protection system : a case study in ambivalence?

Driscoll J
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 54 Dec 2019: 21-34
This article explores the benefits and challenges of a rights-based conceptualisation of child welfare and child protection work and how a rights-based approach may help practitioners to do better for children. First, it considers two areas in which established practice tends to be taken for granted: the disclosure of maltreatment by children and children's participation in care proceedings. It then looks at the value of a rights-based approach in determining the extent of the state's responsibilities in supporting young people leaving care and then addresses concerns that a rights-based approach accords insufficient attention to the importance of personal relationships. Examples are taken from the United Nations, the United Kingdom and New South Wales. This article is based on a paper presented at the 2018 Conference of the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies.

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.
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