Children in Care Falling Behind Most Benchmarks: Research
Thursday, 27th August 2015 at 2:41 pm
Children living in foster care and residential care are tracking dramatically behind their peers, according to new research released by Anglicare Victoria.
The report, described as the largest of its type in Australia, surveyed 353 children in out of home care across 26 life domains and found these children to be disadvantaged across a broad range of indicators compared to children in their own families.
Paul McDonald, CEO of Anglicare Victoria said the study shows the need to bring new effort to the education, health and social needs of these children.
“They are falling too far behind in these areas and thus undermining their readiness for, and achievements in, later life”.
The report found:
• 80 per cent of children and young people in care are attending school full-time, compared to close to 100 per cent of their peers in the community
• 41.2 per cent show very high levels of emotional and behavioural difficulties, compared to 18 per cent of their peers in the broader community
• Less than 40 per cent of children and young people in care can function independently at a level that is appropriate for their age and ability
• 21 per cent of children and young people in care had experienced at least one school change also within a 12-month period
• 50 per cent of young people aged 15 to 17 years old indicate that they wish to pursue postsecondary education, compared to 77.4 per cent of Year 12 students in Victoria who actually go on to pursue tertiary education
• Only 15 per cent of children and young people in care have regular contact with their siblings
Paul McDonald called on Government to be driven by educational, developmental and social outcomes, and not just the delivery of placements for these children.
“Clearly we have to become more ambitious for these children,” McDonald said.
Anglicare Victoria has recommended urgent changes to the out of home care system in five specific areas:
1. More investment directed at improving the longer term outcomes for those in state care by addressing educational, developmental and life activity domains.
2. Continued efforts to ensure stability of placements are sustained.
3. Extend the care placement for children from the current 18 years to 21 years for those not ready or equipped to leave care.
4. Improved reporting mechanisms so that outcomes can be measured against developmental milestones for children in care – and after they leave care.
5. Investing in families to prevent those children entering care.