January 2020
Issue on Indigenous Children in Care
"When (my brother) turned eighteen he came back to the family and he’s never been the same. I could remember him having nightmares and screaming and crying. My dad would run into the room and put his head on his lap. And dad would cry with him. This man was eighteen. He said, 'It’s what they did to me Dad. It’s what they did to me.' I always wondered why and one day he started talking to me about it. He was crying. He said, 'I really can’t talk about it because it hurts so much.' He said how the boys were treated, what they did to him, how cruel they were. He went on to explain a couple of things. He broke down and he couldn’t continue. And this happened a couple of times. I would cry with him. That experience in the home – he’s never been the same."

- Aunty June, an Aboriginal Stolen Generation survivor, from Understanding the experience and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care during the Twentieth Century

Focus on Indigenous Children in Care
The Focus Section brings together research and other documentation published over the past year or two on a particular theme or region. Its aim is to draw attention to the growing body of knowledge developing on the issue and help busy practitioners keep abreast of learning and changes.

This paper from Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM), New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), urges the government and nation of New Zealand to give effect to long-standing Kaupapa Māori models for developing the new required evaluation measures aimed at reducing the disparities for Māori children and young persons who come to the attention of Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children.

This article from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research explores how an approach based on he awa whiria can work in practice in the examination of its efficacy for Māori whānau (families) of the government’s intensive home-visiting programme, Family Start.

Indigenous children have a long history of overrepresentation in child protection systems. This exploratory, mixed methods study from the journal of Child & Family Social Work examined practitioner perceptions of risk in response to client ethnic group in New Zealand. 

This article from the journal of Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work uses Official Information Act and publicly available data to examine recent trends of children in contact with the Aotearoa New Zealand child protection system. It discusses these trends with reference to child protection policy reforms, and an inequalities perspective. The article finds that disproportionality for Maori children in care is increasing, while other groups remain stable or reduce.

This Independent Review of Aboriginal Children in out-of-home care (OOHC) is aimed at examining the high rates of Aboriginal children and young people in OOHC in New South Wales (NSW), Australia and the implementation of the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle (ACPP) in this jurisdiction.

This brief from SNAICC – National Voice for our Children highlights the issue of the disproportional numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care in Australia, which has reached "national crisis proportions," and outlines key steps that need to be taken to address this issue.

According to this research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, the unintended consequences of limited housing pathways puts Indigenous women at significant risk of having their children removed by Child Protection. The research examines how housing and other service responses need to be improved to meet the needs of Aboriginal individuals and families in the aftermath of domestic and family violence.

This report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare presents analyses of selected outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who live in households with members of the Stolen Generations.

The purpose of this study from Macquarie University and the University of Sydney is to support the funding of Aboriginal-controlled research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under government-administered foster care arrangements in Australia.

This report details a component of the UNSW national  Long-term Outcomes of Forgotten Australians Study  reported in  No child should grow up like this,  which explored the in-care and after-care experiences of adults who spent their childhoods in institutions and foster care during the period 1930 to 1989. In this report, the focus is on Stolen Generations survivors and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals who participated in the research.

This paper from the journal of Child & Family Social Work argues that to meet the needs of Aboriginal families and communities where there is child neglect, policy and practice needs to acknowledge and address the impact of trauma in shaping the lived experiences of Aboriginal people.

This article from the journal of Child & Family Social Work presents findings from a thematic analysis of interviews with 13 foster parents who participated in a mixed methods study exploring inclusive foster care in Canada - an approach requiring foster parents to engage with the family, community, and cultural life of the child for whom they care.

This study from the Journal of Adolescent Health investigated the relationship between familial residential school system (RSS) exposure and personal child welfare system (CWS) involvement among young people who use drugs (PWUD). The study examined the likelihood of CWS involvement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous PWUD when controlling for RSS exposure.

This article from the Children and Youth Services Review investigates the efficacy of the Families First Home Visiting (FFHV) program, which aims to enhance parenting skills and strengthen relationships between parents and their children, and whether it is beneficial specifically for First Nation families.

The current study from the Children and Youth Services Review comprises a secondary analysis of the 2013 Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect and focuses on the decision to provide ongoing child welfare services. Specifically, identifying the drivers of the decision to transfer a case to ongoing services, and how these factors vary between investigations involving First Nations children and investigations involving White children. 

This review from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate was initiated by a formal request from Nunatsiavut Government to investigate Inuit children’s experiences in the child protection system in Canada.

This article from the journal of Child & Youth Services reviews theories of Indigenous identity development and their implications for Indigenous children, particularly those caught in the nexus of two cultures, as is the case with those in Canadian state care.

This report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission explores the over-representation of Indigenous and Black children in the child welfare system in Ontario.

This information sheet from the Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal outlines provincial adoption provisions for Indigenous children. Provincial protections pertaining to the adoption of Indigenous children are compiled in two tables, displayed and discussed below

In Ontario, as elsewhere in Canada, there are limited Indigenous-specific resources to assist in strengthening Indigenous youth, families, and communities. This article from the Journal of Law and Social Policy explores how that might be changed by using the Anishnaabeg Youth in Transition Program - a program focused on helping young people aged sixteen to twenty-four in the care of child protection agencies who are preparing to transition out of care - as one model of service delivery.

This paper from the First Peoples Child & Family Review documents findings from an evaluation of the Live-In Family Enhancement (LIFE) program in Manitoba, Canada - an innovative approach in which parents were fostered along with their children - and recommends that this approach be expanded for use in prevention as well as reunification.

This article from the Alaska Law Review argues that the US state of Alaska should enact a state statute to provide clear guidance to state child welfare practitioners and state courts that Alaska’s state government recognizes an Indian custodianship created through Tribal law or custom as a pathway for Indian children to exit the overburdened state foster care system.

The literature examining reunification for American Indian children reveals mixed findings regarding racial differences. Studies that isolate the impact of race on reunification while controlling for other covariates are needed, and this study from the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research fills that gap.

This chapter from the Handbook of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy describes the rationale, research support, and techniques that support the application of parent–child interaction therapy (PCIT) to American Indian families.

This brief guide from Casey Family Programs lays out strategies for recruiting and retaining tribal foster families for American Indian and Alaska Native children, ensuring that indigenous children can stay in their communities.

This research from the journal of Children and Youth Services Review addresses one of the most pressing and controversial issues facing child welfare policymakers and practitioners today: the dramatic overrepresentation of Indigenous families in North American public child welfare systems. The article presents a successful model of inclusive education: the Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies (the Center) at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, School of Social Work.

This scoping study from the Children and Youth Services Review yielded 37 empirical studies published in peer-reviewed journals addressing one of the most pressing, sensitive, and controversial issues facing child welfare policymakers and practitioners today: the dramatic overrepresentation of Indigenous families in North American public child welfare systems.

Understanding the Situation

To investigate the impact of childhood deprivation on the adult brain and the extent to which structural changes underpin these effects, the authors of this study from PNAS utilized MRI data collected from young adults who were exposed to severe deprivation in early childhood in the Romanian orphanages of the Ceaușescu era and then, subsequently adopted by UK families.

The current study uses data from a longitudinal randomized controlled trial to examine whether severe early neglect among children reared in institutions in Romania increases vulnerability to the effects of later stressful life events on externalizing problems in adolescence, and whether social enrichment in the form of high-quality foster care buffers this risk. 

To investigate the early language development of children raised in institutional settings in the Russian Federation , the authors of this study from the British Journal of Developmental Psychology compared a group of children in institutional care to their age‐matched peers raised in biological families, who have never been institutionalized using the Russian version of the CDI.

This paper from Adoption Quarterly examines the implications of recent developments in U.S. intercountry adoption (ICA) policy for vulnerable children.

Related Topics: Adoption and Kafala
This paper from the Children and Youth Services Review reports on a longitudinal study of young people in South Africa transitioning out of care and journeying towards young adulthood over a period of five years.

This qualitative study from the Children and Youth Services Review aimed to explore the need for preparing children ageing out of foster care for independent living in South Africa .

This study from the journal of Child & Family Social Work used 8 years of administrative data (on 2,208 care entrants), collected by one large English local authority, to examine how many children were returned home and to explore factors associated with stable reunification (not re-entering care for at least 2 years).

Through a review of implemented programs to reunite street-involved children and youth (SICY) with their families as well as relevant formative research on family-level risk factors for street migration, the authors of this study from the Children and Youth Services Review explore family-level factors relevant to successful family reintegration of SICY.

This study aimed at investigating the incidence of placement breakdown in Flemish family foster care (Dutch speaking part of Belgium ) for unaccompanied children (UC), and to explore the association of breakdown with foster child, foster family and case characteristics.

This article from the journal of Child & Family Social Work describes the results of a narrative literature review on empirical research examining the outcomes and/or experiences of unaccompanied refugee minors in family foster care in Belgium .

Related Topics: Children and Migration

This research from the journal of Behavioral Sciences was aimed at the features of children and characteristics of foster families in Russia who refuse to continue parenting foster children.

Related Topics: Foster Care

This report from Save the Children, covering period July - September 2019, describes key trends in migrations in the Balkans region, detailing information about the number of people on the move, demography (age, sex, country of origin, etc), behavioral patterns, and routes in use - with a focus on children, particularly unaccompanied children.

Related Topics: Children and Migration
Policies, Standards, and Guidelines

The full text of the 2019 UN Resolution on the Rights of the Child has now been published in the UN Document System under the following document symbol: A/RES/74/133. Adopted by consensus by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2019, the Resolution focuses specifically on children without parental care.

This briefing note was developed by ReThink Orphanages Australia and the ACFID Child Rights Community of Practice to assist entities in Australia and abroad who have orphanages in their supply chains and/or operations to understand the implications of Australia’s Modern Slavery Act 2018. 

This article by Kathryn E. van Doore and Rebecca Nhep, published in the Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity , describes how orphanage trafficking occurs as a process of child trafficking.

In this report, Amnesty International UK, the Refugee Council and Save the Children expose how the UK Government’s policy on refugee family reunion is damaging the lives of children in the UK, and how its justifications for the policy are unsubstantiated.

The paper from the Bratislava Legal Forum aims to build a frame around the main principles of family reunification through the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

The authors of this chapter from Leaving Care and the Transition to Adulthood: International Contributions to Theory, Research, and Practice argue that social policy on leaving care in South Africa is a critical resilience process for promoting care leavers’ successful transition toward emerging adulthood.

This training, developed by the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, is designed to increase participants' knowledge of the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (CPMS).

Learning from Practice

Based on the information gathered throughout the course of the Opening Doors for Europe ’s Children campaign, this final report first reflects on: (1) the rationale for the campaign and how it operated; (2) the progress towards child protection system reform across campaign countries as well as the developments at the EU level; and (3) the lessons learnt from the campaign and some final recommendations to the European Union.

This paper from the World Journal of AIDS presents the achievements and implications of the HIV Programme Development Project (HPDP) on care and support services for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Osun State, Nigeria .

The present study from the British Journal of Social Work evaluates the Youth Initiated Mentoring (YIM) approach in which families and youth care professionals collaborate with an informal mentor, who is someone adolescents (12- 23) nominate from their own social network. The current study examined, through case-file analysis of 200 adolescents, whether the YIM approach would be a promising alternative for out-of-home placement of Dutch youth with complex needs.

The present study from the journal of Adoption & Fostering reports on a mixed-methods evaluation of the Nurturing Attachments training, focusing particularly on its impact on carer self-efficacy and behavioural manifestations of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) which are common among looked after children, even if they are not formally diagnosed.

Related Topics: Foster Care

The study from the International Academic Journal of Law and Society was guided by three objectives to: examine the influence of financial resources in the implementation of Cash Transfer program for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, determine how management influences the implementation of the program, and examine the influence of stakeholders in the implementation of Cash Transfer program for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Isiolo county, Kenya .


This documentary from HBO explores the often-misunderstood world of foster care in the U.S. through compelling stories from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the largest county child welfare agency in the country.

Related Topics: Foster Care

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Newsletter participants, currently 4,372 in total, work on issues related to the care and support of vulnerable children across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. The purpose of the newsletter is to enable members to exchange information on matters of mutual concern. If you would like to share a document, raise a specific issue, request a newsletter subscription, or reach out in any other way to the Network, please send the information to us at  contact@bettercarenetwork.org  or visit our website at  www.bettercarenetwork.org.  

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