Methodology of Longitudinal Surveys II


Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study in New South Wales Australia: rationale, design and data collection

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Type:Contributed Paper
Jul 26, 09:00
  • Marina Paxman - NSW Department of Family and Community Services
  • Johanna Watson - NSW Department of Family and Community Services
  • Judy Cashmore - University of Sydney
  • Andy Cubie - Social Research Institute Ipsos

Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) is the first large-scale prospective longitudinal study of children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC) in Australia. POCLS is the first study to link data on children’s child protection backgrounds, OOHC experiences, health, education and offending held by multiple government agencies; and match it to survey data collected from children, caregivers, caseworkers and teachers. The POCLS database will allow researchers to track children’s experiences and outcomes from birth.

The POCLS has been established to follow the trajectories and wellbeing of a cohort of children and young people aged 0–17 years who were placed in OOHC for the first time on final Children’s Court orders in 2010-2011. The aim of the study is to provide significant new knowledge that will inform policy to improve the outcomes of children and young people in OOHC. Data collection commenced in 2011 and the first three waves at 18 month intervals has been completed. Over a 1,000  children and their caregivers at each wave have taken part in face-to-face interviews including standardised measures and direct assessments of child language comprehension and non-verbal reasoning from the age of 3 years and an activity on felt security from age 7 years. A wide range of information has been collected, including establishment of the placement, caregiver and household characteristics, child well-being and development (safety, health, socio-emotional wellbeing and cognitive/learning ability), school and child care experiences, children’s relationships with the caregiving family, services and support, and contact and perceptions of closeness with birth family and important people outside of their placement.

This presentation describes the study rationale, the design and the processes undertaken to ensure a high quality study including a representative sample, accurate measurement of the parameters of interest and comparability over time. The multiple data sources will be covered including standardised measures and record linkage. The presentation will also report on the strategies used to inform and engage children and young people in the study. It will cover the efforts made in sample retention and data collection to maximise the participation of a diverse and vulnerable population in face-to-face interviews (including carers, parents and children).

The POCLS is being undertaken by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services in Australia with the assistance from a consortium of academic researchers and an independent social research data collection agency. For more information visit the study webpage:  www.community.nsw.gov.au/pathways


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