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.