Skip to main content Accessibility help

Well-being for Indigenous foster children: Alternative considerations for practice research

  • Anthony McMahon (a1) and Lucinda Reck (a2)


In child protection, ‘status indicators’ typically describe the status of children in care in regard to reason for coming into care, length of time in care, racial or ethnic identity and whether specific bureaucratic milestones have been reached. With Indigenous children, status indicators are broadened to encompass explicit requirements arising from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle. Our contention is that this approach serves administrative decision-making and not the needs of Indigenous children.

We propose a different process for evaluating the effectiveness of foster care for Indigenous children that considers their well-being rather than their status as cases. This paper examines ‘well-being indicators’ for Indigenous children in care that emphasise foster family capacity to fulfil basic developmental, health, educational, social, cultural, spiritual, housing (Fisher, Pecora, Fluke, Hardin & Field, 1999) and economic needs. The paper concludes with recommendations for practice research on well-being indicators in Indigenous families.



Hide All
Altshuler, S.J. & Gleeson, J.P. (1999) ‘Completing the evaluation triangle for the next century: Measuring child “well-being” in family foster care’, Child Welfare, 78, 125147.
Al-Yaman, F., Bryant, M. & Sargeant, H. (2002) ‘Australia's Children: Their Health and Well-being 2002’, Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
American Humane Society (1998) ‘Assessing outcomes in child welfare services: Principles, concepts, and a framework of core outcome indicators‘, (accessed 21 November 2002).
Anderson, I. (1999) ‘Aboriginal well-being’, in Grbich, C. (Ed), Health in Australia: Sociological concepts and issues, Longman, pp. 5373.
Bailey, S., Thobum, J. & Wakeham, H. (2002) ‘Using the “Looking after Children” dimensions to collect aggregate data on well-being’, Child and Family Social Work, 7, 189201.
Bellamy, C. (2001) ‘The State of the World's Children’, New York: United Nations Children's Fund, (accessed 18 November 2002).
Fisher, H., Pecora, P., Fluke, J., Hardin, M. & Field, T. (1999) Improving the quality of children's services: A working paper on outcomes-based models of service delivery and managed care, Englewood, CO: American Humane Association, The Casey Outcomes and Decision-Making Project.
Fitzgerald, T. (2001) Cape York Justice Study, Brisbane: Queensland Government (Department of the Premier and Cabinet), (accessed 18 November 2002).
Fluke, J.D., Edwards, M., Kutzler, P. Kuna, J. & Tooman, G. (2000) ‘Safety, permanency, and in-home services: Applying administrative data’, Child Welfare, 79(5), 573595.
Garmezy, N. (1993) ‘Children in poverty: Resilience despite risk’, Psychiatry, 56, 127136.
Germain, C.B. & Gitterman, A. (1980) The life model of social work practice. New York: Columbia University Press.
Goodluck, C.T. & Willeto, A.A.A. (2001) Native American Kids 2001: Indian Children's Well-Being Indicators Data Book, National Indian Child Welfare Association, (accessed 11 November 2002).
HREOC (1997) Bringing Them Home: National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families, Sydney: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
Kortenkamp, K. & Ehrle, J. (2002) The Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System: A National Overview, Washington DC: The Urban Institute, Series B, B-43, (accessed 18 November 2002).
Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) (2002) The Health and Well-being of Aboriginal Children and Youth in British Columbia, (accessed 17 November 2002).
New York City Administration for Children's Services (NYCACS) (2001) Progress on ACS Reform Initiatives, (accessed 18 November 2002).
Pearson, N. (2001) Dr Charles Perkins Memorial Oration: On the human right to misery, mass incarceration and early death, (accessed 1 March 2002).
Powell, M. & Withers, J. (2001) A question of safeguards: Inquiry into the care and circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in care, NSW Community Services Commission: Strawberry Hills, NSW.
Reid, J. (1983) Sorcerers and healing spirits, continuity and change in an Aboriginal medical system, Sydney: Pergamon.
Robertson, B. (1999) The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's task force on violence report, Brisbane: Queensland Government (Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy and Development), (accessed 18 November 2002).
Runyan, D.K., Hunter, W.M., Socolar, R.R.S., Amaya-Jackson, L., English, D, Lamdsverk, J., Dubowitz, H., Browne, D.H., Bangdiwala, S.I. & Mathew, R.W. (1998) ‘Children who prosper in unfavorable environments: The relationship to social capital’, Pediatrics, 101(1), 1218.
Sanders, J. & Munford, R. (1998) ‘Playing ball on running water: Studying family well-being’, paper presented at 6th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne 25-27 November, 1998, (accessed 17 November 2002).
SCRCSSP (Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision) (2003) Report on government services 2003, Canberra: Productivity Commission.
Silver, J., DiLorenzo, P., Kukoski, M., Ross, P.E., Amster, B.J. & Schlegel, D. (1999) ‘Starting young: Improving the health and developmental outcomes of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system’, Child Welfare, 78(1), 148165
Simms, M.D., Freundlich, M., Battistelli, E.S. & Kaufman, N.D. (1999) ‘Delivering health and mental health care services to children in family foster care after welfare and health care reform’, Child Welfare, 78(1), 166183.
Tilbury, C. (2002) ‘Performance measurement in child protection’, Australian Social Work, 55(2), 136146.
UK Department of Health (2002) Framework for the assessment of children in need and their families, London: The Stationery Office.
UNICEF (1989) Convention on the rights of the child, (accessed 3 January 2003).
Welfare Information Network (2003) ‘Resources for welfare decisions: Indicators of child well-being’, (accessed 12 March 2003).

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Well-being for Indigenous foster children: Alternative considerations for practice research

  • Anthony McMahon (a1) and Lucinda Reck (a2)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.