Measuring permanency outcomes in the child protection system

Development of data reporting and an evaluation framework measuring outcomes were agreed as part of ministerial commitments promoting permanency for children in out-of-home care. The Permanency Outcomes Performance Framework (POPF) was developed in 2018 under the Fourth Action Plan 2018–20 of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children to measure jurisdictional performance on achieving permanency outcomes (Seselja 2017; CSM 2018; DSS 2018).

Report overview

This report presents data on 14 indicators for Domains 1 and 2 under the POPF. The POPF is a national data and evaluation framework designed to provide objective measurement of permanency outcomes for children in out-of-home care. Aspects of permanency covered by the indicators include:

  • Preservation (where families are supported to keep children at home safely)
  • Reunification (where children are returned home safely after time in out-of-home care)
  • Where reunification is not possible, what permanency outcome is achieved (third-party parental responsibility order or adoption)
  • Stability of permanency outcomes (whether it is still in place after 12 months)

Indicators on timely and informed decision-making related to permanency arrangements are also presented. These focus on achievement of orders and permanency outcomes within 2 years of admission to out-of-home care.

Other indicators relate to children for whom it’s deemed in their best interests to remain in long term out-of-home care. These indicators focus on children who have been in care for more than 2 years, covering:

  • legal stability (which legal orders children are placed on and how long it takes to achieve their order)
  • placement stability (time in placement and number of placements)

A list of all POPF indicators, including data for the most recent reporting period, is provided in Table 1 on the Summary page.

Previous reporting of permanency indicators

The POPF indicators have previously been reported in:

This report marks the first time that POPF indicators are reported in a stand-alone product. The main differences between the content of this report and previous reporting of POPF indicators are that:

  • POPF indicators have been refined, where required, to measure specific outcome areas or targets
  • the number of disaggregating variables in data tables have been reduced, to lower the prevalence of small numbers
  • time-series data for indicators are reported for the first time.

Note that, in this report, suppression has been applied to some small numbers for Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, by request.

Data for indicator 1.7c, which records the proportion of children who were in their main care arrangement for 2 or more years – a measure of placement stability – is not included in this report as the indicator is undergoing further development by AIHW and stakeholders. This indicator will be include in future reporting once development is complete.