COVID-19: Impact on children living in out-of-home care and their carers

Publication Name

Australian Journal of Social Issues


Children enter out-of-home care (OOHC) having experienced significant childhood adversities and trauma. Little is known about the short-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on this vulnerable group. To gain some insights, we analysed the early impacts on the well-being and experiences of children in OOHC and their carers using the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study data prior to and post the first lockdown restrictions. A total of 862 children, young people and their carers were interviewed either pre-COVID-19 restrictions (n = 567) (April 2019–March 2020) or post-COVID-19 restrictions (n = 295) (June–December 2020). While the two groups showed no significant differences in socio-emotional well-being, both the pre- and the post-COVID-19 restriction groups of children in OOHC had slight reductions in socio-emotional well-being. The interviews with the post-COVID-19 group showed that the pandemic restrictions affected children's well-being and behaviour, education, social and physical activities, as well as time spent with their birth family. Likewise, interviews with carers post-COVID-19 found a negative effect on carers' well-being, their ability to manage financially and their capacity to care and access services and support. The article contributes new evidence to inform OOHC policy and practice to support service systems facing unique challenges arising from a pandemic.

Open Access Status

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