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.
Assoc Prof Stephanie Taplin, Emeritus Prof Morag McArthur, Prof Cathy Humphreys (University of Melbourne)
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 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.
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.
Peer-reviewed journal articles
Taplin, S., Lucas, N., Suomi, A., Humphreys, C., Kertesz, M., & McArthur, M. (2021). Parents’ supervised contact visits with their children in care: Factors associated with cancellations. Children & Youth Services Review. 127, 106127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2021.106127.
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
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.
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.
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.
ACU News. (2020, 14 October). New ACU research will improve supervised contact visits for 45,000 children
Catholic Weekly. (2020, 9 October). ACU Newspaper and online article in Catholic Weekly: Improved contact visits helps foster kids
ACU News. (2020, 9 October). ACU research leads to better contact between children in out-of-home care and their parents
Mirage News. (2020, 9 October). ACU research leads to better contact between children in out-of-home care and their parents
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 Community Services Directorate, ACT Government
- Marymead Child and Family Services
Under the umbrella of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare:
- Salvation Army Westcare
- Mackillop Family Services
- CAFS Ballarat
- Wesley Mission Victoria
- Berry Street
- NSW Department of Family and Community Services
- Life Without Barriers
- Anglicare (St Saviours)
For more information about the project, contact Assoc Prof Stephanie Taplin