The foster care and family reunification nexus: Care as a mechanism for bringing families back together

Veronica Coram, Jonathon Louth, Catherine Mackenzie, Ian Goodwin-Smith

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


The research evaluated the operation of a specialist foster care model focusing on family reunification from the perspectives of foster carers and program staff. The research identified the key strengths of the program and made recommendations about how to optimise service provision to enhance outcomes for foster carers and children. Specialist foster care covers some of the most challenging out of home care placements and the impetus towards family reunification adds another layer of complexity. Understanding how specialist foster carers experience their role is vital to ensuring they are well-supported, which also enhances outcomes for children. While there has been some qualitative exploration of the experience of foster carers in Australia, there is limited research focusing on the distinct experiences of specialist carers. This research highlights the specific demands of specialist foster care and identifies ways support for specialist carers can be optimised. The demand for out of home care placements has been rising in Australia and children are presenting with increasingly complex needs. There is also a growing understanding of how high-quality foster care can improve outcomes for children in the child protection system. This research articulates the supports that are most helpful for specialist foster carers and recommends increasing investment in this critical role in order to improve outcomes for children, which in turn is likely to result in downstream savings for the welfare, health and justice sectors.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Australian Alliance for Social Enterprise (UNISA Business)
Commissioning bodyCentacare Catholic Family Services
Number of pages67
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Foster care
  • family reunification
  • Out of home care
  • Child Protection


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