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Case Study: Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS)

The Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) is the first study in Australia to link child protection, health, education and offending administrative data collected by the NSW and the Commonwealth governments for children in care. The study includes first-hand accounts from children, caregivers, caseworkers and teachers for a cohort of 4,126 children who entered out-of-home care (OOHC) in 2010-2011 in order to examine their experiences in OOHC and developmental pathways. The breadth of information in the data asset enables us to identify the risk factors that lead to poorer outcomes as well as the protective factors that mitigate these risks and result in improved outcomes.

The data asset was created in collaboration with OOHC stakeholders and research experts. The POCLS is of international and national significance and is likely to have greater explanatory power than other studies because of the large sample size, high retention rate across waves, the selection of gold standard measures and reliable/valid questions used. The linked data provides some outcome information for children that are lost to follow-up or do not participate in the interview component of the study.

To maximise the benefit of this rich longitudinal data asset to inform policy and practice, the POCLS Study Working Group continues to improve and expand the data asset, for example: the planned inclusion of linked data for young people after they turn 18 years old allows the opportunity to explore longer term outcomes for children who experience OOHC.

The POCLS data asset will be used to answer priority policy questions relating to OOHC policy and practice and specific requests of the Minister, Secretary or colleagues. As over 30% of children in OOHC are Aboriginal, the POCLS data asset will be used to improve how services and supports are designed and delivered in partnership with Aboriginal people and communities.

Analysts are able to access the POCLS data asset by way of NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) funded projects or in-kind through the DCJ External Research Program. Guidelines have been written to ensure a fair and consistent approach to accessing the POCLS data. The POCLS has developed guidelines, data user resources, data documentations, technical reports and data user training which are available on the POCLS webpage

Figure: Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study of children in out-of-home care data asset


Last updated 07 Jun 2021