Children without a safe and stable home environment require alternative living arrangements and can be placed in out-of-home care (OOHC). The stability of their placement has a significant impact on the child's wellbeing and outcomes. One measure of stability is the number of placements a child has while in OOHC. Understanding what a placement move is and why it happens can help to inform work with children, carers, families of origin and communities.

This paper presents local and international evidence from a scoping review on the factors that influence placement moves for children in OOHC. The paper aims to support practitioners in making evidence-informed placement decisions when working with children and carers in OOHC.

Key messages:

  • This review found that a number of factors are likely to increase the risk of a placement move and reduce the duration of first placement.
  • The review also found that placement in kinship care reduces the risk of a placement move and increases placement stability, especially for older children.
  • The quality of 'parental care' provided by carers also affects placement stability.
  • Evidence is mixed on the impact of placement with siblings on placement stability.
  • There is a significant gap in Australian evidence on risk and protective factors for placement moves for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are over-represented in OOHC.
  • Placement stability may be improved by selecting and preparing carers and having regard to the risks of a placement move, particularly in relation to externalising behaviour and those of an older age entering care.
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CFCA Paper 61