Dr Aino Suomi, Nina Lucas, Institute of Child Protection Studies; Dr Dave Pasalich, Research School of Psychology, Australian National University


NSW Department of Communities and Justice


This research will investigate how we can better support birth family relationships for children over time. The study analyses data over four waves related to children who entered out-of-home care in 2010-11 in NSW to examine the following:

  1. How do patterns of contact with birth families change over time after final orders?
  2. Are there distinct subgroups of children with different patterns of contact (i.e., age group, Indigenous status, kinship/foster care, high needs children, children exposed to domestic violence)?
  3. Are there specific contact needs or issues with contact related to the specific subgroups of children that have implications for policy and practice?


Contact with birth families for children in out-of-home care is important for maintaining identity and developing sense of self. Good quality contact can support the wellbeing of children in foster and kinship care.

But not much is known of what good quality contact looks like for different subgroups of children. In addition, there is currently no large-scale longitudinal studies examining how contact needs may change over time as children age. The dataset for this study is from the NSW Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study.

This project is the first one to study patterns of contact over time for a large number of children in the out-of-home care system. The outcomes from the project will inform policy and practice around birth family contact.


For more information contact

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