Nicole Hunter

Biography

Nicole is a senior project manager at the AIHW. She has worked across a number of high profile projects in the child and youth welfare space. She was the lead researcher on the data linkage project that explored the educational outcomes of children and young people in out-of-home care, and the project manager for indicator development and reporting under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children.

Abstract

A sense of security, stability, continuity, and social support are strong predictors of better long-term outcomes for children and young people. Out-of-home care plays a significant role in shaping the lives and development of children and young people who experience it.

The National Standards for Out-of-home Care (the ‘National Standards’), a priority project under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, have been designed to drive improvements in the consistency and quality of care provided to children and young people who are unable to live with their families and are under the statutory care of the Minister or Chief Executive in states and territories.

A national survey of children aged 8–17 residing in out-of-home care was conducted in 2015. The data collected allow for reporting against 8 indicators under the National Standards for the first time. The survey injects the voices of these children into the national discourse about them, and provides insights into their sense of security, connectedness, participation, and preparation for life after care.

Abstract

For young people in out-of-home care, education is integral to their overall development and wellbeing, providing a gateway to future employment and life opportunities. Lost educational opportunities can have a cumulative negative effect on young people, and those in care are an ‘at risk’ group with demonstrated poorer educational results than other children.

This presentation highlights key findings from a large scale data linkage study which examined the academic performance of children and young people in care, as assessed by National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test results. The study linked administrative data across multiple state and territories to compare the academic performance of children in care to that of other children sitting the NAPLAN tests. For those in care, the study also explored the influence on academic performance of factors such as Indigenous status, sex, language background, geographic location, living arrangements (e.g. foster care) and length of time in care.

The findings from this study have been used as a baseline measure for indicator reporting under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children. Continued monitoring will build the evidence base, informing policy, practice and support to help improve the outcomes for these young people into adulthood.

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