Lottie Harris, PhD Candidate


We are reviewing the available evidence on the systems, services and practices that support improved mental health for children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC). We aim to provide practitioners working with children and young people in OOHC and mental health with a summary of the evidence to aid decision-making in this difficult space.


The key issue in the mental health care of children and young people in OOHC is a lack of evidence on what works best for them. Their mental health needs often go unmet or undetected, and standard mental health treatments and services are typically ineffective at responding to their complex needs. Left unaddressed, mental health issues contribute to ongoing cycles of disadvantage and reduce quality of life.

We have reviewed the research and the field of practice, and examined the following elements:

  • foundations of therapeutic everyday care
  • enhancements to health assessments
  • what we know about interventions
  • Australian interventions
  • barriers and enablers to improved mental health.

Practitioners are welcome to check out our summary of the evidence.

evidence summary tile

Key insights

  • Therapeutic care is essential but not enough on its own: children and young people need access to highly specialised, evidence-based treatments.
  • Interventions for children and young people in OOHC: successful when they are specifically designed and tailored to their needs.
  • Effective pathways to mental health support: interagency commitment to collaboration; high quality assessment; and specialised mental health clinicians who understand the OOHC context.
  • Mental health literacy: increase in the level of literacy in the whole care team (workers, carers and children/young people) can also support improved outcomes.
  • Australian models: specialised health services for OOHC can be potential models for replication.

Share your experience

Practice wisdom contributes to evidence building!

As part of this project, we are seeking input from practitioners with knowledge of the mental health systems and supports available to children and young people in OOHC and their needs.

We would love to hear from case workers, team leaders, therapeutic specialists etc. We hope to test our findings from the evidence summary based on your valuable, on-the-ground insight into what enables and hinders children and young people to access appropriate and essential mental health care.

We invite you to share your knowledge on what works and what doesn't work to support improved mental health for the children and young people you work with.

As a big thank you for giving up your time for an interview, we are able to give all participants a $20 gift card.

Who we are looking for

We are looking for practitioners who:

  • are employed by an organisation that delivers OOHC services in any Australian state and territory
  • provide direct support to children and young people with their mental health
  • have been working in this field for 12 months or more
  • can spare 45 minutes to be interviewed online or face-to-face at your preferred location.

Closing date: 22 April 2024

Register your interest here

Links to supplementary material

Ethics oversight

Australian Catholic University Human Research Ethics Committee; 2023-3399E

Project timeline

Feb - Dec 2024


For further information contact Lottie Harris.

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