Let Them Learn: Improving the Educational Outcomes of NSW Children in Care

The poor educational outcomes attained by children and young people in out-of-home care has long been a concern for the child and family welfare sector.

Education plays a fundamental role in helping children and young people growing up in care achieve a productive and rewarding life. However, for this particularly vulnerable group of students experiences of abuse and neglect, trauma, disrupted attachments, removal from family and placement changes can all impact negatively on their ability to learn. Research consistently indicates that far too many of these children and young people are missing out on the good quality education that is so critical to their future health, welfare and wellbeing.

Snapshot: Educational Engagement of Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care in NSW

Results of independent research  conducted by ACWA to measure the depth of this problem in NSW paints a concerning picture of the level of educational disengagement experienced by children and young people living in out-of-home care.

Key findings revealed:

  • One in five school aged children and young people in care are absent from school at any given time.
  • One in three school aged children and young people in care did not have an Individual Education Plan.

The Project: Let Them Learn

ACWA has initiated a project to better support NSW children and young people in care to engage in education. Our aim is to bring about system wide change to the experience and outcomes of this cohort to ensure that they can access appropriate education that will prepare them for life.

In line with this focus and in consultation with our out-of-home care member agencies, ACWA has developed a Policy Statement of goals and objectives that are necessary to achieve the significant changes needed in current practice to address and promote educational inclusion and achievement of children and young people in care.

Education Roundtable: A Starting Point for Change

As a key starting point for change, ACWA hosted a Roundtable in October of high level decision makers, stakeholders and experts in both the education and child protection spaces, and from across government and non-government, to identify gaps or barriers in current practices and to help determine a way forward for NSW.

The event was designed in association with the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People, who shares ACWA’s commitment to advocacy for vulnerable children and young people while bringing a whole of government perspective to the issue, and was sponsored by PwC.

More information from the day can be found in this summary report.