About the Study

Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care is a long-term research project about the lives of young people in out-of-home care and their experiences of leaving care in Victoria. It is the first of its kind to be conducted in Victoria.

The first wave of data collection began in June 2015 and the project will run until mid-2018.

Read our caseworker fact sheet or carer fact sheet. These sheets will be updated soon to cover the current wave of Beyond 18.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of the study is to inform government policy in supporting more effective transitions for young people from out-of-home care. In particular, it will aim to improve young people’s move towards interdependent relationships and eventual independence by:

  • Providing insights into the critical success factors associated with transition from out-of-home care
  • Proposing ways of enhancing out-of-home care
  • Proposing improvements in the transition from care
  • Proposing improvements post transition from care

People taking part

202 young people took part in the first Wave of the study. The study is still open to young people who haven’t previously participated in Beyond 18 if they:

  • Are aged 16-19 years at the time of their entry into the study (up until June 2017; the eligible age range will then change for Wave 3 of the study)
  • Have spent time in foster care, lead tenant, residential care, kinship care or permanent care in Victoria

Out-of-home care caseworkers and carers are also encouraged to complete their own online survey about the experience of young people leaving care.

When

Recruitment to the Beyond 18 study began in 2015. The study will follow this first group of young people over three years to understand how their experiences and outcomes change over time.  The first wave of data collection ended in June 2016 and Wave 2 ends in June 2017. New participants can enter the study at any time up until the end of 2017. The study ends in mid 2018.

Study design

The Beyond 18 study methodology involves three strands of information (data) collection.

1. Young people’s survey

The young people’s survey will be undertaken with a sample of approximately 200 young people during their transition from care. Participants are encouraged to complete a total of three online surveys between 2015 and 2018 (i.e. three ‘waves’ of data collection). Information collected in these waves will provide insights on the pathways and experiences of these young people over time. There are two main parts to the survey.

The short online survey

The main component of the Survey of Young People is an annual online survey. This takes about 30 minutes to complete. Participants receive a $50 gift card for completing each annual survey. By arrangement, the survey can also be completed with an AIFS researcher over the phone, in person, or in paper format. After a participant competes the first survey, we will personally contact them when it is time to do the second and third surveys.

Follow-up phone surveys 

Young people keen to be more involved can choose to do a short follow-up telephone interview approximately six months after completing an online survey. Those who participate receive an additional $20 gift card. An AIFS researcher will call the young person to talk in more detail about some of the topics in the online survey and about other aspects of participants’ out of home care experiences and/or post-care life. The telephone interview usually takes about 20 minutes (depending on how long participants want to talk).

2. Case file data extract

The case file audit will provide information on the pathways and experiences of young people undertaken so far and inform subsequent waves of data collection. AIFS researchers are working with the Department of Health and Human Services to extract the data.

3. Carer and caseworker surveys

There are also annual online surveys for out-of-home care workers and carers to allow them to express their thoughts and opinions about the out of home care and leaving care systems in Victoria. The second round of carers and care workers’ surveys are now out. Whether you’ve completed one before or not, we’d love to hear from you. If you are a carer go to the carers survey. For out of home care workers or leaving care workers, go to the caseworkers survey.

Information gathered from these surveys will help provide a fuller understanding of the needs and experiences of young Victorians leaving care.

Consultation

As part of the project development, AIFS has consulted with key representatives from peak bodies, out-of-home care and leaving care service providers and community groups. Support from organisations who assist young people in out-of-home care is essential to the success of the research.

The main purposes of this community consultation are to:

  • Help inform key aspects of the study design and survey content
  • Promote the study to other relevant community groups and organisations
  • Encourage and support the participation and ongoing involvement of individuals who are eligible for the study

Input from key stakeholders will continue throughout the course of the study.

Reference groups

Governance arrangements for the Beyond 18 study comprise three working groups, each with a different focus and responsibilities, as well as youth participation functions.

Implementation Group

The Implementation Group is responsible for the project management and delivery of the study and includes researchers from the AIFS and staff from the Department’s Centre for Human Services Research and Evaluation branch. The group will also work with the Stakeholder Advisory Group to enhance the strategic linkage of the study with other research studies in Victoria and Australia and actively develop potential extensions to the study.

Department Working Group

The Department Working Group is responsible for providing strategic and technical advice and assistance throughout the Beyond 18 study. The working group provides methodological advice to AIFS and contribute to the continuous improvement of the study’s implementation. The group includes Departmental staff, research advisors, and technical experts in the out of home care and leaving care fields.

Stakeholder Advisory Group

The Stakeholder Advisory Group is responsible for providing external stakeholder perspectives and advice throughout the study. The advisory group contributes to the research quality and methodological rigour of the study. The group comprises external stakeholders with relevant experience and knowledge related to out of home care. In order to ensure the effective representation of young people in the governance of Beyond 18, the advisory group’s membership includes two young people recruited from CREATE’s Young Consultant Program.

Youth participation

The purpose of youth participation in the Beyond 18 study is to provide a platform for young people to actively engage and participate in the conduct of the study. The Implementation Group is working with peak representative bodies across Victoria – including the CREATE Foundation – to ensure the voices of young people are included in developing all stages of the study. This includes membership of two young people on the Stakeholder Advisory Group.