kContact – improving contact between children in OOHC and their parents: Carers’ account of contact

Foster and kinship care
Thursday 26 July, 1130 – 1150

Presenters

Associate Professor Stephanie Taplin
Institute of Child Protection Studies

Abstract
Foster and kinship families play a crucial part in facilitating parental contact visits for children in out-of-home care (OOHC) and managing the relationship with parents between visits. There is limited evidence, however, what managing regular and ongoing contact with parents looks like from the carers’ perspective. This paper reports on the carers’ account of about 137 children 0¬–14 years of age in long-term OOHC who are having supervised contact with parents in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. The data used for the paper are from a cluster randomised controlled trial (the kContact study) that aims to improve contact for children in OOHC.

This paper particularly focuses on the experiences of contact for carers, many of whom are managing and facilitating parental contact concurrently for multiple foster or kinship children. The main findings point to complex psychosocial profiles of high needs children, coupled with a significant time and resource commitment by the carers to facilitate contact with parents. The results also highlight a substantial need for appropriate preparation and information for foster and kinship carers in relation to parental contact. The paper concludes with specific recommendations for research and practice, how to better equip carers in relation to supporting contact and to reduce the burden of care for foster and kinship families.