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.


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

This study will be conducted over four waves.

Wave 1

The first wave of data collection will be conducted using a file audit. The Department of Human Services and community services organisations will use internal resources to extract quantitative and qualitative data required.

The file audit will provide information on the pathways and experiences of young people undertaken so far and inform subsequent waves of data collection.

Wave 2

The second wave will include face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 250 young people during their transition from care, at approximately six to nine months prior to the termination of guardianship orders.

Waves 3 & 4

The third and fourth waves of data collection will include face-to-face interviews with the same cohort of young people at approximately three months and 15 months after they have transitioned from care.

Information collected in these waves will provide insights on the pathways and experiences of these young people over time.

Carers Online survey

  • An online survey of carers and caseworkers will be conducted at the same time as the longitudinal survey with young people.
  • Information gathered will supplement the longitudinal survey of young people and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the experiences of young people during care and after they have left care.

Case studies

  • Approximately 15 to 20 in-depth case studies will be developed alongside the longitudinal survey with 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.


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

Project Reference Group

The project reference group includes technical experts in the fields of out-of-home care and leaving care. The group will provide technical research advice, enhancing the strategic linkage of the study with other research studies in Victoria and Australia. The group will also provide technical research advice to the Australian Institute of Family Studies to continuously improve the research methodology throughout the life of the study. It is envisaged that this group will be active in developing potential extensions to the study.

Youth Advisory Group

A dedicated youth advisory group will be convened by the Department of Human Services in collaboration with the CREATE Foundation. This group will provide a platform for young people to actively engage and participate in the conduct of the study.

Two representatives of the group will be a part of the project reference group.

Leaving Care Central Advisory Group

The Leaving Care Central Advisory will engage community services organisations and service providers throughout the study. The group will be convened by the Children, Youth and Families Division within the Victorian Department of Human Services on a quarterly basis.

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.

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