Well-being and education for children in out of home care

Out of home care
Wednesday 25 July, 1500 – 1520


Michelle Townsend
School Of Psychology, University Of Wollongong

Children in out of home care (OOHC) experience poorer educational outcomes compared to children who are not in care. This study examined the educational pathways of children who entered OOHC for the first time between May 2010 – October 2011 and the role of well-being in promoting educational outcomes (n= 1,285). This is an important issue because higher levels of socio-emotional well-being is strongly linked with student outcomes. The Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study data was used to examine trends in cognitive, verbal, socio-emotional well-being, and education, of children in OOHC. Child and carer surveys were collected over three waves, each 18-months apart. Findings indicate improvements in socio-emotional well-being of some children over time in OOHC with lower Child Behaviour Checklist Scores (CBCL), internalising and externalising scores. Lower negative reactivity and greater persistence was also evident over time. CBCL scores were significantly higher in secondary school age students who entered OOHC for the first time at older ages compared to primary school children and for those with an education plan. Changing schools more frequently, was linked to higher CBCL scores and lower persistence and approachability. Children in foster care reported greater CBCL total problems over time compared to those in relative/kinship care. Over time, school engagement increased for most children. NAPLAN results will also be presented for children on different trajectories to examine factors influencing educational outcomes.