Beyond 18
The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care

Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care is a long-term research project about the lives of young people in out-of-home-care (OOHC) and their experiences transitioning from care in Victoria.

  • The study will be conducted over five years.
  • It is the first of its kind to be conducted in Victoria.
  • Data collection will commence in 2013 and run until 2017.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of the study is to inform government policy in supporting more effective transitions for young people from OOHC. In particular, it will aim to improve young people's move towards interdependent relationships and eventual independence by:

  • Providing insights into the critical success factors associated with transition from OOHC
  • Proposing ways of enhancing OOHC
  • Proposing improvements in the transition from care
  • Proposing improvements post transition from care

In the longer term, key findings from the research will be made publicly available and researchers will be able to access the data, upon request, for further analysis. Personal details that could identify participants, or their family, will be removed before researchers have access to the data.

People taking part

Around 300 young people who will be 17 and a half in 2014 will be asked to take part in this study, after an initial file audit is conducted in the studies first wave of information gathering.

Carers and case workers will also be asked to take part through an online survey.

When

Recruitment to the Beyond 18 study will take place during 2013-14.

The study will follow this group over three years through their journey to interdependence and eventual independence, to understand how their experiences and outcomes change over time.

Study design

The Beyond 18 study methodology involves four strands of information (data) collection. The key strand is a longitudinal Survey of Young People, which is supplemented by three other data collection strands.

The Survey of Young People

The longitudinal Survey of Young People involves undertaking face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 250 young people during their transition from care. The interviews will be conducted when the young person is aged approximately 17, 18½ and 19½ years. This strand represents a total of three waves of annual data collection: Wave 1 (2014); Wave 2 (2015); and Wave 3 (2016). Information collected in these waves will provide insights on the pathways and experiences of these young people over time.

In-depth case studies

Approximately 15 to 20 in-depth case studies will be developed alongside the longitudinal Survey of Young People. These case studies will provide detailed information on the experiences of young people in different types of care placements and with different types of risk factors.

Case file audit

The case file audit will provide information on the pathways and experiences of young people undertaken so far and inform subsequent waves of data collection. AIFS researchers will work with the Department of Human Services and community services organisations to extract quantitative and qualitative data required.

Online Surveys of Carers and Caseworkers

The Online Surveys of Carers and Caseworkers will be conducted at the same time as the longitudinal Survey of Young People. Information gathered will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the experiences of young people during care and after they have left care.

Consultation

As part of the project development, AIFS has commenced consultation with key representatives from peak agencies, out of home care and leaving care service providers and community groups.

Support from organisations who assist young people in OOHC is essential to the success of the research.

The main purposes of this community consultation are to

  • help inform key aspects of the study design and survey content;
  • promote the study to other relevant community groups and organisations; and
  • encourage and support the participation and on-going involvement of families and individuals who are eligible for the study.

Input from key stakeholders will continue throughout the course of the study.

Reference groups

Governance arrangements for the Beyond 18 study comprise three working groups, each with a different focus and responsibilities, as well as youth participation functions.

Implementation Group

The Implementation Group is responsible for the project management and delivery of the study and includes researchers from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) and staff from the Department's Centre for Human Services Research and Evaluation branch. The group will also work with the Stakeholder Advisory Group to enhance the strategic linkage of the study with other research studies in Victoria and Australia and actively develop potential extensions to the study.

Department Working Group

The Department Working Group (DWG) is responsible for providing strategic and technical advice and assistance throughout the Beyond 18 study. The DWG will provide methodological advice to AIFS and contribute to the continuous improvement of the study's implementation. The group includes Departmental staff, research advisors, and technical experts in the out of home care and leaving care fields.

Stakeholder Advisory Group

The Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) is responsible for providing external stakeholder perspectives and advice throughout the study. SAG will contribute to the research quality and methodological rigour of the study. The group will comprise external stakeholders with relevant experience and knowledge related to out of home care. In order to ensure the effective representation of young people in the governance of Beyond 18, SAG's membership includes two young people recruited from CREATE's Young Consultant Program.

Youth participation

The purpose of youth participation in the Beyond 18 study is to provide a platform for young people to actively engage and participate in the conduct of the study. The Implementation Group is working with peak representative bodies across Victoria - including the CREATE Foundation - to ensure the voices of young people are included in developing all stages of the study. This includes membership of two young people on the SAG.

Further information

If you are interested in contributing to the study or would like to find out more, please contact us.
More information about the project can be found at the Victorian Department of Human Services website and the Beyond 18 study website.

This study has been commissioned by the Victorian Department of Human Services.

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