Characteristics and outcomes of newborns entered who entered into care (EIC) within 7 days of birth in NSW, Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Children and Youth Services Review, 2017, 81 pp. 261 - 267
Issue Date:
2017-10-01
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© 2017 Introduction Out of home care (OOHC) is the last recourse when children are at risk of serious harm and the home environment is not considered safe. A large proportion of children in OOHC are under five years of age and an estimated 18% are under one year of age. This study is the first to identify, over a defined period of time, the number, and outcomes of newborn babies removed by an assumption of care (AoC) and placed into OOHC in New South Wales (NSW). This study additionally aims to investigate if there is any association between the amendments to the NSW Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 in 2008 and any increase in the number of newborn babies entering into care (EIC). Method This study uses data on newborn babies aged seven days or less that entered into OOHC in NSW from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2014. The data set (n = 1834) was analysed to determine the annual numbers, trends and characteristics of newborn babies who EIC in this vulnerable period. A pre and post 2008 analysis was undertaken to determine if legislative changes influenced the trend of prenatal reporting and the numbers of newborn babies EIC. Results The number of newborn babies EIC care steadily increased from 2006 to 2014 as did prenatal reporting. Aboriginal newborn babies were over represented in the data set which correlates with national data. Approximately one third of the sample was identified as Aboriginal (31.6%) and Aboriginal newborn babies are 9.5 times more likely to be in OOHC than non-Aboriginal. The odds of a prenatal report being submitted to FACS were 1.91 times higher for Aboriginal compared to non-Aboriginal. Our study shows that of the newborn babies that EIC care in the study period, only 6.6% were restored to their parent/s and only 5.1% were adopted. Comparison of the pre and post legislative amendment period indicated a higher proportion of newborn babies were EIC at a younger age in the second period compared to the first, a greater proportion of these were subject to prenatal reports and a smaller proportion of these newborn babies were adopted. Findings Newborn babies are the most vulnerable group of children admitted to OOHC. This study has drawn attention to the number, characteristics and outcomes of newborn babies who EIC within 7 days of birth. Further research is required to be able to compare the NSW data to other States and Territories and to understand the impact of an Assumption of Care (AoC) at birth on the newborn baby and the mother. Findings from this study have implications for maternity care providers and child protection services.
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