Looking After Children Outcomes Data Project (2007)

Introduction

Before their placement in out-of-home care, most children have experienced serious adversity as a result of abuse or neglect relating to increasingly complex problems within the family. Children placed in out of home care need to be assisted to recover from their trauma and provided with better life experiences that promote healthy development and improve their life chances. Although developmental outcomes for children in care are confounded by pre-placement experiences and other factors outside the control of the care system, careful monitoring of children's developmental progress can assist service providers to understand how well they are meeting children's current needs and where changes in policy and program delivery may be required to progressively improve their outcomes while in care.

In Australia at present very little data is routinely collected that focuses on the individual progress of children in care, and it is even less common for these data to be aggregated to inform service development and policy.

Looking After Children (LAC) has been progressively implemented since 2002/2003 as the best practice framework for the out of home care services provided by community service organisations (CSOs) in Victoria in conjunction with the Department of Human Services (DHS). LAC incorporates a set of tools including the Assessment and Action Records (AAR) that focus on the child's development across seven life areas (health, education, emotional and behavioural development, family and social relationships, identity, social presentation and self care skills) and across six different age related versions (12 months, 1-2 years, 3-4 years, 5-9 years, 10-14 years and 15 years and older). Although the AAR were originally developed for child outcomes monitoring as well as to guide good care, to date the AAR have been used in Victoria primarily by the child's care team to assess individual child needs and to inform or revise the child's Care and Placement Plan.

The LAC outcomes data project was undertaken in order to exploit the potential of the existing AAR, completed in the course of everyday practice, for deriving outcomes data about children in out of home care. This project aimed to see if it was possible to derive sufficient high quality data from paper based AAR data that could be validly aggregated in order to establish a baseline for monitoring children's progress over time, and to determine the feasibility of using AAR data for this purpose in an ongoing way.

Download the Report

  • The report provides the background to the current project, including the difficulties children in out-of-home care (OOHC) experience, and the need for outcomes data to monitor child progress at an aggregate level and a summary of the data collected in the out of home care client group in Victoria.
  • Executive Summary
  • Chapters 1 and 2 provide the background to the current project, including the difficulties children in OOHC experience, and the need for outcomes data to monitor child progress at an aggregate level.
  • Chapter 3 provides a description of the measures used in the current analysis and, where possible, their psychometric properties.
  • Chapter 4 describes the analytic approach and the findings.
  • Chapter 5 presents a discussion of the findings in the light of the measurement and sampling issues that limit conclusions that can be drawn.
  • The Appendice contains data tables for the Outcomes Report.
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