Out-of-home care refers to alternative accommodation for children and young people who are unable to live with their parents. In most cases, children in out-of-home care are also on a care and protection order.
There are several different living arrangements that are called out-of-home care:
This is when a child is placed in the home of a carer who is receiving a payment for caring for the child.
Relative or kinship care
This is when a child is placed in accommodation with a family member or a person who already knows the child.
Family group homes
A family group home provides accommodation for a child in a residential building, which is usually run like a family home. These homes have a limited number of children and they are cared for around the clock by resident carers.
Residential care offers children accommodation in a residential building, with paid staff. This includes facilities where there are rostered staff and where staff are offsite.
This includes other accommodation options, like private boarding.
How does out-of-home care affect children?
Children who live in out-of-home care accommodation experience significant life changes. Out-of-home care that is safe and stable can help children and young people recover from the experience of abuse and neglect. Out-of-home care services are designed to provide a safe environment, contribute to improving developmental outcomes and assist in addressing issues that led to the out-of-home care placement.
Children and young people placed in out-of-home care are likely to have experienced a signiﬁcant life disruption and loss and will require support to catch up on some developmental stages. Children and young people with a disability who have experienced abuse and neglect will require specialised, highly skilled and well-supported out-of-home care.
Many children growing up in institutional and other out-of-home care in the last century were denied the basic right of all children to receive protection, support and loving care. All Australians are committed to learning from this history and improving the opportunities given to our children and young people.
What are the living arrangements of children in out-of-home care?
Approximately 93% of all children living in out-of-home care in Australia are in home-based care. Of that figure, 41% are in foster care, 48.5% are in relative/kinship care and 3.9% are in other forms of home-based care. A further 6% of children were placed in alternative living arrangements.
At 30 June 2014, the vast majority of children living in out-of-home-care had been in care for more than one year. Twelve percent of children had been in out-of-home-care for between 1-2 years, 28% had been in care for between 2-5 years, and 41% had been in out-of-home-care for more than 5 years.
How many children live in out-of-home care in Australia?
As of 30 June 2014, there were 43,009 Australian children living in out-of-home care. This has increased from 7.7/1,000 children at 30 June 2013 to 8.1/1,000 children at 30 June 2014. The number of children in out-of-home care has risen every year over the past 10 years.
How many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children live in out-of-home care?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children comprise 5.5% of all children aged 0-17 years in Australia; yet in 2013-14 they constituted nearly 35% of all children placed in out-of-home care. In all jurisdictions, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children on placement orders was higher than that for other children.
As of 30 June 2014, there were 14,991 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care in Australia – a placement rate of 51.4 per 1,000 children. In contrast, the rate for non-Indigenous children was 5.6 per 1,000. This indicates that the national rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care was almost 10 times the rate for non-Indigenous children.
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Australia Institute of Family Studies, Children in Care Resource Sheet, 2015, https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/children-care
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, An Outline of National Standards for Out‐of‐Home Care, 2011, https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/pac_national_standard.pdf