Main findings from the kContact trial of a contact intervention to support parents with children in out-of-home care

Community-based family services Foster care Out-of-home care Parenting and guardianship Child welfare Australian Capital Territory New South Wales Victoria

The kContact study is the largest trial to date testing the effectiveness of a contact intervention (the kContact Practice Model) in the out-of-home care context. The main component of the kContact Practice Model consisted of the key workers contacting parents before and after each contact visit to provide them with support. This support helped parents clarify their concerns and expectations about contact, and provided practical and emotional support for the next visit with the study child.

The study demonstrated that the kContact intervention significantly reduced the proportion of contact visits cancelled by parents. In addition, when the program was fully delivered, it significantly improved caseworkers’ receptivity to family contact, and significantly improved parents’ satisfaction with contact. The study showed that supporting parents can be an effective approach to improving contact experiences that can be easily embedded in the current casework practice.

These findings demonstrate the benefit of the kContact Practice Model in providing support to parents to attend contact visits. Given the distress children experience when visits are cancelled or when parents fail to attend a scheduled visit, and when contact visits are negative experiences, being able to show an improvement on these outcomes as a result of the intervention is particularly important.

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