There is a lack of evidence about the outcomes of child protection services, in particular, their impact on the educational outcomes of children in the care of the state. Education makes a significant contribution to the development and well-being of children, providing an important gateway to future employment and life opportunities. For many children in the care of the state, school is their safest and most supportive environment. However, disrupted school attendance due to relocation and exclusion is also a common experience, and it has been suggested that lost educational opportunities have a cumulative effect on children in care as they move through the various stages of education and development.
This paper highlights key findings from a pilot study which examined the academic performance (as assessed by literacy and numeracy test scores) of children on guardianship and custody orders. This research involved interdepartmental linkage of administrative data across multiple jurisdictions, the first Australian study in this field to have done so. The academic performance of children on orders is compared to that of all children sitting the tests, and the influence of factors such as Indigenous status, sex, living arrangements (e.g. foster care) and length of time on orders is also explored.