The UK looking after children approach in Australia

The UK looking after children approach in Australia

Sarah Wise

Research Report No. 2 — June 1999
The UK looking after children approach in Australia

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Looking After Children is an assessment, case-planning and review system designed in the UK to promote positive development outcomes among children and young people who are required to live away from their families of origin.

This report argues that the Looking After Children approach may have measurable benefits for child care services in Australia. The report includes an overview of research related to the health and well being of children looked after away from home, both within Australia and in foreign child welfare systems.

The development of Looking After Children in the United Kingdom is traced, including an overview of the practice application of the Assessment and Action Record component of the materials. The need for a means of assessing child care outcomes in Australia is assessed, and information is provided about the research and implementation projects already developing the Looking After Children materials in this country. A trial implementation in Victoria is described, including an evaluation of the pilot conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Findings from that evaluation are presented and discussed, as are the implications of the evaluation and the experience of implementation in the United Kingdom.   

Authors and Acknowledgements

Sarah Wise has worked as a researcher at the Australian Institute of Family Studies since January 1996, and is currently engaged as a Research Fellow within the Institute's Children and Parenting Program. Sarah's research interest is in the broad area of child welfare and developmental psychopathology, and she has published on the topics of child and family support and child care. Sarah is also undertaking doctoral research on the development of problem behaviours among maltreated children.

This work would not have been possible without the contribution made by the former Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Dr Harry McGurk. It was Harry who initiated the Institute's evaluation of the Victorian Looking After Children project in the hope that the benefits of this UK approach would extend to Australian children in need of substitute care.

Special recognition is given to the Rotary Health Research Fund, who provided funding for the Institute's evaluation of the Victorian Looking After Children project. Also acknowledged are other stakeholders, including the Children's Welfare Association of Victoria, who supported the Institute's involvement in the Victorian Implementation Project, and the Department of Human Services, who gave permission for the Institute to involve client children and their families in the evaluation.

Thanks are extended to Richard Dickins, Policy Manager of the Children's Welfare Association of Victoria, Robin Clark, Senior Research Fellow at Deakin Human Services Australia, and Lloyd Owen, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social Work and Social Policy, LaTrobe University, who have given support and advice throughout the project, and have been wonderful mentors. Also acknowledged are the valuable contributions of Danni Melidio, who facilitated focus group interviews with young people, and members of the Institute's Looking After Children Research Advisory Group - Rod Pell, Ann Robinson, Rebecca Pirois and Katheryn Howe. Also very much appreciated is the interest shown and time given by care providers, caseworkers, supervisors and coordinators within the agencies.

Finally, a debt of gratitude is owed to the children who were directly involved in the evaluation project - for welcoming me into their homes, for sharing their opinions, and for their moving stories and experiences.

For reasons of confidentiality, names used throughout this book are not the real names of children who participated in the project.

Publication details

Research Report
No. 2
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, June 1999.
0 642 39469 5
Suggested citation:

Wise, S. (2008). The UK looking after children approach in Australia (Research Report No. 2). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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