The Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) is the first large scale prospective longitudinal study on out-of-home care (OOHC) in Australia. The study examines the developmental wellbeing of children and young people (hereafter children) in OOHC on final orders under the NSW (NSW) Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998.
The study population is 4,126 children (aged 0-17 years) in NSW entering OOHC for the first time ever between May 2010 and October 2011. The POCLS will follow in detail the trajectories of a subset of the study population, those children who received final care and protection orders by April 2013 including children in long-term foster care or relative/kinship care, residential care, adoption, restoration1 and those who re-enter OOHC.
In May 2011, multi-wave face-to-face interviews commenced with children and caregivers to collect detailed information on the characteristics, needs, experiences and outcomes of the study children. Other data sources for the POCLS are online surveys of childcare workers, teachers and caseworkers; and administrative data through record linkage. This study will contribute towards building a strong evidence base to inform policy, practice, decision making and training to improve the outcomes of children who have been exposed to childhood abuse and neglect.