Fostering school attendance for students in out-of-home-care

Being at school is a prerequisite for achieving success in learning and life. Absence from school (for whatever reason) means students miss out on all the benefits school has to offer. Children and young people in care are absent from school more than their peers, and they also have worse experiences and outcomes from school. To improve educational outcomes for these students it is vital to help them attend school. That is the focus for this project with a team from four universities and nine partner organisations.

Partner organisations

Project outcomes

The project will produce important knowledge that is needed to understand:

  1. why students in care experience significant absences from school, and
  2. what can be done to improve their attendance by schools, carers, education systems, and OOHC systems.

Our focus

Children in care

Following a Child Protection investigation some children are placed in Out-Of-Home-Care. This may be with a relative, in foster care, or in residential care. Mid-2022 there were over 45,000 children in care in Australia, and almost 36,000 of these were of school age (5-17).


Regular attendance at school is crucial to educational success. Students in care have significantly more absences from school than their peers not in the child protection system, including not only due to authorised and unauthorised absences but also due to suspension and exclusion.

Educational achievement

Students in care don’t achieve as well at school as their peers. For example, in Australia they have lower achievement in literacy and numeracy than their peers. Educational success is a core foundation for success across life.

About the project

Recognising experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, and communities

We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this country and their connection to land, water, and community.

We value the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have looked after and taught their children for thousands of years, maintaining ongoing connections to community, culture and country.

We recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are taken into care far more than their non-Indigenous peers. Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (aged 5-17) 57 out of 1,000 are in care; compared to 4.8 out of 1,000 for non-Indigenous children.

We understand these experiences add to the historical trauma of the stolen generations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We collaborate with Indigenous knowledge holders to tread sensitively, listen, act with respect, recognise heterogeneity, and inform the development and sharing of knowledge.

Invitation to connect

We welcome connections with people and organisations that share our purpose to improve education for students in care. We envisage that from 2024 (when the actual project is underway) we will circulate an email newsletter 2-3 times per year. If there are other ways in which you’d like to connect you can let us know in the open text box at the end.

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Contact us

Australian Research Council logo

This project has been partially funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council Linkage Scheme (LP2201001130). It will run from late 2023-2026.