The kContact study developed and trialled a contact program for children in long-term care who were having supervised contact with their parents; it aimed to contribute to the research evidence by conducting one of the first randomised controlled trials (RCT) of a contact intervention.

It was hypothesised that the kContact intervention would:

  • decrease child problem behaviours
  • improve relationships between children and parents
  • improve the ability of carers and caseworkers to support family contact
  • reduce the proportion of contact visits cancelled by parents.

The trial took place between 2015 and 2017 in Victoria and ACT, and between 2017 to 2018 in NSW.

Publications are being produced and will be available as they are published.

The project is a joint initiative between Institute of Child Protection Studies (ICPS) of the Australian Catholic University, the University of Melbourne, and a number of government and community partners.

Chief Investigators

Assoc Prof Stephanie Taplin, Emeritus Prof Morag McArthur, Prof Cathy Humphreys (University of Melbourne)

Funding Source

It was funded by the Australian Research Council ( Linkage Project 130100282), with significant partner contributions. ICPS was also funded by NSW Family and Community Services to expand the study into four NSW sites. 

Ethics Approval

Ethics approval was obtained from the Australian Catholic University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), and ratified by the University of Melbourne HREC. Approvals were also obtained from the responsible government and non-government partner agencies.

Project Team

The kContact Project Team includes researchers from ICPS and the University of Melbourne.

Assoc Prof Stephanie Taplin, Chief Investigator, Institute of Child Protection Studies

Prof Morag McArthur, Chief Investigator, Institute of Child Protection Studies

Prof Cathy Humphreys, Chief Investigator, Alfred Felton Chair of Child and Family Social Work, Department of Social Work, University of Melbourne

Dr Aino Suomi, Project Manager, Institute of Child Protection Studies

Dr Margaret Kertesz, Project Manager (Vic) (2014-17), Research Fellow, Department of Social Work, University of Melbourne

We also acknowledge the contribution of many project staff members who have moved on to other roles.

Publications

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Suomi, A., Lucas, N., McArthur, M., Humphreys, C., Dobbins, T., & Taplin, S. (2020). Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to Support Parental Contact for Children in Out-of-Home Care. Child Abuse & Neglect.

Bullen, T., Taplin, S., McArthur, M., Humphreys, C., & Kertesz, M. (2017) Interventions to improve supervised contact visits between children in out of home care and their parents: A systematic review. Child & Family Social Work. 22(2), 822–833. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cfs.12301/full

Bullen, T., Taplin, S., McArthur, M., Humphreys, C., & Kertesz, M. (2016). Interventions to improve supervised contact visits between children in out of home care and their parents: A systematic review. Child and Family Social Work.

Taplin, S., Bullen, T., McArthur, M., Humphreys, C., Kertesz, M., & Dobbins, T. (2015). kContact, an enhanced intervention for contact between children in out-of-home care and their parents: protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health, 15(1), 1134. (open access) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12889-015-2461-3/fulltext.html

Research Reports

Bullen, T., Taplin, S., Kertesz, M., Humphreys, C., & McArthur, M. (2015). Literature review on supervised contact between children in out-of-home care and their parents. Canberra: Institute of Child Protection Studies, ACU.

Other Publications

Taplin, S., & Suomi, A. (2020). Main findings from the kContact trial of a contact intervention to support parents with children in out-of-home care. Canberra: ACU Institute of Child Protection Studies. https://doi.org/10.26199/5f61749c09efa

Suomi, A., Taplin, S., & Tewson, A. (2019). How are foster carers and kinship carers faring in contact visits with birth parents? Findings from the kContact study, Research to Practice Series, Issue 24. Canberra: Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University.

Bullen, T., Taplin, S., & Barry, E. (2015). Supporting quality contact visits for children in out-of-home care. Research to Practice Series, Issue 10. Canberra: Institute of Child Protection Studies, ACU.

Taplin, S. & Mattick, R.P. (2014). Supervised contact visits: results from a study of women in drug treatment with children in care. Children and Youth Services Review. 39, 65-72.

Media

Institute of Child Protection Studies. (2013, 3 July). Half-million dollar ARC grant for ACU's Institute for Child Protection Studies [Media Release]. Canberra: Institute of Child Protection Studies, ACU.

Partner Organisations

In addition to ICPS and the University of Melbourne, a number of organisations in the ACT and Victoria partnered in the kContact project, and have provided significant financial contributions.

ACT

  • ACT Community Services Directorate, ACT Government
  • Marymead Child and Family Services
  • Barnardos

Victoria

Under the umbrella of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare:

  • Salvation Army Westcare
  • OzChild
  • Mackillop Family Services
  • CAFS Ballarat
  • Baptcare
  • Wesley Mission Victoria
  • Berry Street

NSW

  • NSW Department of Family and Community Services
  • CareSouth
  • Life Without Barriers
  • Uniting
  • Anglicare (St Saviours)

For more information about the project, contact Assoc Prof Stephanie Taplin

 

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