An Analysis of Reunification from Out-of-Home Care in Three Australian States
Child Indicators Research, 2015, 8(2): 359-373.
The aim of this study was to examine the nature and predictors of family reunification patterns across three jurisdictions in Australia. A sample of 1,337 children were sampled from three Australian States if they had entered care for a period of at least 7 days between January 1st 2006 and December 2007. Administrative data were collected using a consistent sample frame (until the end of 2009) and using a standardised data collection protocol. The results confirmed the findings of previous studies by showing that 80 % of reunification typically occur within the first year after entry into care and that factors relating to poverty as well as abuse, rejection and abandonment emerged as the most consistent risk factors associated with a reduced likelihood of reunification. Some differences between the States were observed and these were attributed to differences in the availability of kinship care and in legislation relating to the timing of long-term placement decisions. The findings are discussed in relation to the challenges associated with studying multiple clustered risk factors as well as the need for nationally consistent data collection systems that enable nationally comparative child welfare data to be collected on a regular basis.
Reunification; Out-of-home care; Australia; Policy