Out-of-home Care in Australia


The ‘why’

There are over 46,200 children in the Out-of-Home Care system in Australia and this number has been increasing.

More children are entering Out-of-Home Care than those being discharged, while Foster Carers are leaving the system. The system is under pressure.

There are two key needs:

  • More carers to provide a loving home for every child who needs one, for as long as they need one
  • Better support for carers to help ensure successful placements for the best outcomes for kids

The outcomes for children with an Out-of-Home Care experience do not tell a good story.

Separation from family is a traumatic experience, and this is often compounded by multiple placements. Relational trauma impacts a child’s brain, biology, body, beliefs and behaviours in significant ways and can have profound long-term impacts.

Research shows that young people leaving care in Australia are more likely to leave school early, be unemployed, be homeless, have children at a young age, have challenges with physical health, mental health and substance abuse, lack informal social support and be involved in the criminal justice system (read more here).

What is Out-of-home Care?

Out-of-home Care (OOHC) is the term used for overnight care for children aged under 18 years of age who are unable to live with their families due to safety concerns.
Children in OOHC are generally on care and protection orders, where legal responsibility for their welfare is held by a child protection department. This involves ongoing case management with the goal of achieving a permanent placement or reunification where suitable.
For some children OOHC is for as little as a few days, however, the majority of children (82%) are in care for one year or more, with 41% in OOHC for over 5 years (AIHW, 2022).

We’ve provided some useful information below to help you understand Out-of-home Care in Australia.

Statistics are sourced from the Australian Institute of health & Welfare Child Protection Report.

Curious about exploring
Foster Care?

Are you able to provide a safe and loving home for a child or young person, either part-time or full-time?
Find out more about Foster Care.

Find out more

Foster Care is not for you, but you want to help?

There are so many ways you can make a difference in the Out-of-Home Care space.
Find out how you can get involved.

What can I do?

Want to get your church involved?

We provide a bridge between the local church and the child protection system, offering resources and opportunities to make a difference.

Find out more