Family structure, child outcomes and environmental mediators

Family structure, child outcomes and environmental mediators

An overview of the Development in Diverse Families Study

Sarah Wise

Research Paper No. 30 — February 2003
Family structure, child outcomes and environmental mediators

Contemporary research on the adjustment of children growing up in "nontraditional" family forms has raised questions about the capacity of these families to provide for a child's interests. As the dominance of the conventional nuclear family continues to decline, Australian data about diversity within families and between families, and the life chances of children growing up in different family structures, are needed.

Understanding the differing needs of families today is essential for the development of family policies and services that adequately support families in their childrearing tasks. This Research Paper describes a new Institute study that aims to enhance understanding about how family structure relates to the development of children. It examines outcomes for children in different family types and in relation to factors internal and external to the family. The relevant theoretical and empirical literature and the policy context that together form the background to the study, as well as the details of the research approach, are described.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Ms Sarah Wise is a Principal Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies leading the Children and Parenting Program. She has a background in child development and developmental criminology and a research interest in child welfare and non-parental child care. As an Institute researcher, Sarah has managed research projects in the areas of family support, child protection, out-of-home care and day care, and has published in refereed journals, and has produced various Institute reports, commissioned works, and briefings on these topics. Sarah is also undertaking research on children's recovery from maltreatment in out-of-home care contexts as part of a PhD degree through the Department of Psychology at the University of Melbourne.


I would like to thank Ann Sanson for the considerable conceptual, methodological and editorial guidance that she provided during the development of this Research Paper. The paper has also been strengthened by a meticulous review undertaken by Bryan Rodgers.

Publication details

Research Paper
No. 30
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, February 2003.
48 pp.
ISSN: 
1446-9871
ISBN: 
0 642 39500 4
Suggested citation:

Wise, S. (2003). Family structure, child outcomes and environmental mediators: An overview of the Development in Diverse Families Study (Research Paper No. 30). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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