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About out-of-home care

Out-of-home care (OoHC) is a temporary, medium or long-term living arrangement for children and young people who cannot live in their family home.

Out-of-home care (OoHC) is a temporary, medium or long-term living arrangement for children and young people who cannot live in their family home.

In Victoria, around 10,300 children and young people live in OoHC at any one time. Of these, around 2,000 are aged from newborn to five years.

Types of statutory out-of-home care

These children live away from their parents in a range of court-ordered alternative care arrangements, including:

  • Foster care: a child is taken into care by a foster carer who has been trained and approved to look after children.
  • Kinship care: a child is taken into care by a relative or family friend allowing them to remain within the family or local network.
  • Permanent care: a child is placed into the care of a permanent carer (including foster or kinship carers where it is intended the child will remain in their care until age 18 or beyond) prior to a Permanent Care Order being made by the Children's Court.
  • Residential care: a young person is placed into a home staffed by carers.

For more information, see: Kinship, foster and other care.External Link

Some children stay in OoHC for only a few days a week, while others are in OoHC for many years.

Each child entering OoHC comes with their own unique strengths and difficulties. Children in care - even upon first entry to care - may present with a range of significant behavioural, emotional, medical and physical needs that reflect their history of abuse, neglect and disadvantage.

The majority of children placed in OoHC are placed with kinship carers who may have fewer resources and more complex support needs than other types of carers.

How children are admitted into OoHC

Children and young people come into OoHC through two main channels:

  • after an investigation and removal from the family home by Child ProtectionExternal Link
  • when a parent or parents cannot care for their child and they approach the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or a community service organisation for support.

A number of legal orders can be granted by the Children's Court to assist in the safe removal of a child from their family home. Current orders can be found on the DHHS website. For more information, see child protection ordersExternal Link .

Requirements for early childhood professionals and ECEC services

Key early childhood services, including Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services, funded kindergarten programs within community based and long day care services, have clear roles and responsibilities under the early childhood partnering agreement to support children placed in OoHC.

Why accessing early childhood services is important for children placed in OoHC

Participation in high-quality early childhood services makes a significant difference to all children’s lives, especially those who are vulnerable.

Children placed in OoHC services are among the most vulnerable in our community. Many are not accessing key early childhood services. These children are at risk of starting school more developmentally vulnerable than their peers.

Disadvantage in the early years

Evidence shows that the care children receive in the first 1,000 days of their life is critical to long-term positive outcomes.

Research shows that enrolling children in high quality early childhood programs and services can make a major difference to their long-term learning and development outcomes. There is a significant link between exposure to abuse and neglect with negative health, social, employment and contact with the criminal justice system.

Reducing health inequities and ensuring the best start to life for everyone, irrespective of their background, is in the best interests of the community.

Reviewed 12 October 2022


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