Briefing paper

Birth family contact for children and young people in out-of-home care: What does the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study tell us?

22 Dec 2016

Good quality contact between children and young people in OOHC and their birth families can promote positive outcomes. This Evidence to Action Note outlines key findings related to birth family contact for children and young people in the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS). Links to current best practice and resources are also included.

POCLS Wave 1 data was collected during their first years in care. The study found that the majority of children and young people in the study were in contact with a member of their birth family. Most contact with birth parents occurred less than once a month. Children in foster care tended to have less frequent contact with their birth family than children in relative/kinship care, and their caregivers were less likely to report that children had a good relationship with their birth family.


POCLS is the first large scale prospective longitudinal study on OOHC in Australia. The study examines the safety and developmental wellbeing of a group of children in NSW who entered OOHC for the first time between May 2010 and October 2011 and received final care and protection orders by April 2013. It is led and funded by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) with independent expert researchers providing advice on study design, and undertaking the interviews and analyses. Wave 1 was conducted in the child/young person’s first years in OOHC. A total of 1,285 children and young people aged 9 months to 17 years, and their caregivers, participated in the Wave 1 interviews between May 2011 and August 2013.

Publication Details
Published year only: 
Subject Areas
Geographic Coverage