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Experiences and service needs of children in out-of-home care 5-12 years of age with cognitive and/or behaviour problems

Research report 22
Caregivers Foster care Child protection Out-of-home care Kinship care New South Wales

The Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) is funded and managed by the New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ). It is the first large-scale prospective longitudinal study of children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC) in Australia. Information on safety, permanency and wellbeing is being collected from various sources. The child developmental domains of interest are physical health, socio-emotional wellbeing and cognitive/learning ability. The overall aim of this study is to collect detailed information about the life course development of children who enter OOHC for the first time and the factors that influence their development.

This paper examines the experiences and service needs of children in out-of-home care (OOHC) with cognitive and/or behavioural problems using information collected through the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS). The children’s carers’ experience, opinions and satisfaction with the support received and their role are also considered.

This paper is based on information that that was originally requested to support the NSW Their Futures Matter (TFM) reform which used a cohort approach to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. The TFM cohort of interest for this analysis involved high needs children and was defined as children aged 5 to 12 years-old with a disability impacting their cognition and/or behaviour, or showing early indications of having one, who are either living in OOHC, or have contact with the Justice system.

Children in the POCLS who were 5 to 12 years of age at their Wave 3 interview with clinical range behaviour problems and/or below average range language skills and/or non-verbal intelligence broadly met the criteria for the TFM cohort of interest relating to high needs children (hereafter referred to as the high needs cohort).

In this paper, these children are compared with children in POCLS who were the same age and who were in the normal or borderline ranges across all of these domains (hereafter referred to as the comparison group).

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Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study Research Report 22