This research will provide new knowledge on policy, practice, and support to improve quality of life and outcomes for young people who have been cared for by Child Welfare Services. People who have been looked after by Child Welfare Services have poorer outcomes in adulthood than persons raised by their families. These disparities have been documented internationally, in different policy and welfare service contexts, related to schooling, employment, income, housing and living situations, as well as physical and mental health. To expand our understanding and knowledge on the relationship of child welfare policies and practices on long term outcomes for young people looked after by Child Welfare Services, this research utilises cross-country comparisons between Norway and Australia.
The project has four components: Child Welfare Services policy analysis, population-level study using data registries and linked administrative data, lived experiences of looked after youth and young adults, and support networks including carers and service providers. Comparisons between Norway and Australia will expand understanding of the impact of different policies and practices on outcomes as it includes comparisons of different contextual variables such as migration trends, Indigenous populations, geographical remoteness, and labour market dynamics. The research builds on ‘life course theory’, and a multi-level emphasis on social context, individual development, and effect of change over time to enhance knowledge related to trajectories, transitions, turning points, and critical events. Life course theory also acknowledges the interdependent and linked nature of family members, friends, peers, co-workers, and significant others.
This multi-pronged research aims to generate knowledge about successful pathways in transitioning from the care of Child Welfare Services into adulthood and the influence of policy, interventions, and contextual factors.
Young people who have been in the care of child welfare systems face myriad challenges as they transition into adulthood, resulting in poor long-term outcomes. The overwhelming international trend shows that compared with their peers who have not been in care, care leavers are more likely to experience unstable living conditions, low engagement in employment, financial instability, low levels of educational attainment, poor physical and mental health, and involvement in criminal justice systems. Child welfare policies to support young people as they transition to independence are implemented differently in different countries, leading to different outcomes. To date, there has been no international comparisons at a population level to determine how various policy contexts influence outcomes for care leavers, thus not allowing a granular explanation for why young people continue to experience poor outcomes. This project will develop a nuanced and dynamic understanding of how different policies and practices produce pathways that either promote or constrain positive outcomes in adulthood. We will compare administrative data from Norway and Australian to objectively quantify and compare, at a population level, associations between service use pathways and young people’s outcomes as they transition from out-of-home care within different policy contexts. The mixed-methods study will make cross-country comparisons of the lived experiences of young people, their carers, and service provision practices that act as barriers and facilitators to positive long-term outcomes within Norway and Australia. The combined findings from the population-level data, together with an in-depth understanding of their lived experiences will identify a best practice model to facilitate better outcomes. A policy analysis and synthesis will be conducted alongside these studies to highlight the influence of policy on service provision practices, young people’s pathways, and outcomes.
HELSEVEL-Gode og effektive helse-, omsorgs- og velferdstjenester