Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Out-of-Home Care in Australia

Mark Galvin & Melissa Kaltner - Ernst & Young

1. Introduction

The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt by all Australians with illness, unemployment and the government’s response to curb the transmission of the virus disrupting many aspects of daily life. Largely hidden from our view is the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable children and families in the community, in particular those who reside in, or are likely to enter, the foster care or ‘Out-ofHome Care’ (OOHC) system.

The health and financial implications of COVID-19 alongside the government’s response measures have significant implications for the stability of many fostering households which may necessitate the movement of children in care to alternative accommodation as well as driving additional demand for foster households in an already capacity stressed system.

This report considers these implications through a review of published literature and consultation with current foster and kinship carers, to examine impacts of COVID-19 on OOHC, highlighting the likelihood of increased service strain. It further models available data to explore the opportunities that may exist to meet the needs of children in the Australian community who require care in the months ahead.