Placement (in)stability: Children’s life course journeys in out-of-home care

Jaana Haaja1, Dr Emily Hurren2, Dr Troy Allard1, Professor Anna Stewart1

1School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Mount Gravatt, Australia
2CQUniversity Australia, Brisbane, Australia

Placement stability within out-of-home care (OOHC) is a primary goal of all child protection systems, given that stability can be considered a protective factor against poor developmental outcomes amongst maltreated children. However, methodological limitations in current placement stability literature have limited our understanding of an individual’s total OOHC experience and the extent and nature of (in)stability across the life course. This study aims to improve our knowledge of placement (in)stability by illustrating the complexity of an individual’s life course (birth to 18 years of age) experiences of OOHC. We used a population-based, linked, longitudinal administrative database from Queensland, Australia, to explore the OOHC placement experiences of all Queensland children born in the year 1990 who experienced at least one OOHC placement before the age of 18 years (N=721). The findings indicate substantial variability in individuals’ OOHC experiences, including differences in the numbers of placements experienced relative to age, however there were no significant differences across gender and race. The complexity of OOHC experiences is discussed in relation to implications for policy and practice.


Jaana is a current PhD candidate, unit coordinator, and tutor with the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University and has completed her Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice (Hons1). Her research interests include child protection systems policy and practice, out-of-home care, placement (in)stability, the impact of domestic violence on children and social media.


Dec 10 2021