Children and young people in out-of-home care face unique education and training challenges. LOOKOUT Education Support Centres employ education and allied health staff to give these vulnerable children and young people in out-of-home care a better chance of doing well in their education.
Research indicates that children and young people living in out-of-home care are at greater risk of poorer educational outcomes than those in the broader community. Students in out-of-home care are at greater risk of:
- poor school attendance and engagement
- failing to develop foundational educational skills and reaching expected benchmarks
- disengaging from compulsory schooling
- not achieving any academic qualification.
What are the LOOKOUT Centres?
The LOOKOUT Centres are designed to boost the capacity of schools, Child Protection Practitioners and out-of-home care services to improve educational outcomes for children and young people living in out-of-home care.
How do LOOKOUT Centres Support?
LOOKOUT Centres assist children and young people through:
- professional development with staff and carers
- advice to schools to support individual students
- challenging enrolment decisions that aren't in a student's best interests
- facilitating opportunities for students to participate fully in school life.
LOOKOUT Centres support schools, Child Protection Practitioners and case workers to meet their obligations under the Partnering Agreement. This includes ensuring that all students have:
Individual Education Plan
Student Support Group
- appropriate and structured contact between schools, case workers and carers
- Designated Teachers: As an additional support Victorian schools will have a designated teacher, nominated by their principal and trained by LOOKOUT Centres, to be the advocate for out-of-home care students at their school. Together with LOOKOUT Centres, the designated teacher will monitor students' Individual Education Plans to ensure they are meeting their learning goals.
What is Out-of-Home Care?
In Victoria, there are four types of out-of-home care placements for children and young people removed from their families by court order due to substantiated care concerns.
LOOKOUT Centres will work with all Victorian children and young people of school age in foster, kinship, residential and lead tenant care arrangements. More information on the types of care available can be found below:
Foster care – foster carers are volunteers from the community who are recruited, assessed and trained by community service organisations to provide short and long term 24 hour care for children and young people in their own homes, in a family environment. A foster carer is supported by and will have a case manager from a community service organisation.
Kinship care – children and young people are generally placed with a family member or close friend (such as a grandparent or a close and trusted community member) to provide 24 hour care. Kinship care is the fastest growing form of out-of-home care placement in Australia. Kinship carers may not have a dedicated case manager.
Residential care – accommodation is provided in a home-like environment through a community-based house, primarily for young people. Care is provided by paid staff and managed by community service organisations. Children and young people who live in residential care are often those who have experienced the greatest level of trauma and who, therefore, require the most expert therapeutic care and support. Placement in residential care is based on assessment of each individual’s needs. This includes consideration of alternative placement in home-based care, and in particular kinship care, wherever possible. Residential care homes are supported by a house coordinator and the children and young people living there are provided a key worker. For young people aged 16 to 18 years Lead Tenant services provide semi-independent accommodation and support, in a form of residential care. Lead tenant programs are based on an approved volunteer adult providing day to day guidance and mature role modelling in a shared house arrangement, with additional support by case managers and youth workers.
Permanent Care – is when a child or young person is placed in the permanent care of an existing foster carer or kinship carer. Children and young people living on Permanent Care Orders are no longer involved with DHHS child protection. As such, this cohort will not appear on the LOOKOUT Centre student roll and will not be actively monitored by LOOKOUT Centre staff.
Each LOOKOUT Centre team is based across the Department of Education and Training's regional offices. The Centre works as part of a multidisciplinary service response with expertise in:
- Koorie cultural education
- data analysis
- social work.
For more information, see:
Contact LOOKOUT Centre
South Western Victoria Region
Principal: Ian Wren
South Eastern Victoria Region
Principal: Murray Geddes
North Western Victoria Region
Interim Principal: Marise Boff
North Eastern Victoria Region
Principal: David Rose