Out-of-home care refers to the care of children and young people up to 18 years who are unable to live with their families (often due to child abuse and neglect). It involves the placement of a child or young person with alternate caregivers on a short- or long-term basis (Victorian Department of Human Services, 2007). Out-of-home care can be arranged either formally or informally. Informal care refers to arrangements made without intervention by statutory authorities or courts, and formal care occurs following a child protection intervention (either by voluntary agreement or a care and protection court order). This paper provides a snapshot of the data on Australian children and young people who were in out-of-home-care during 2014-15. Some of the key challenges in providing a safe and stable care arrangement are also discussed.
This paper was updated by Nick Heyes, Senior Project Officer with the Child Family Community Australia information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Previous editions were compiled by Jessica Smart, Brooke Walton, Kathryn Goldsworthy, Deborah Scott, Lalitha Nair and Alister Lamont.