Improving Education For Kids In Care

New data has been released which shows that LOOKOUT Centres are making a real difference to the futures of students in out-of-home care.

Minister for Education James Merlino has announced the results of the program’s pilot trial, which commenced in April 2016 and took place in South West Victoria.

LOOKOUT helps school aged kids in out-of-home care get the best results from their education and it is having a huge impact.

The number of students in out-of-home care in the region who were not enrolled in school declined from 64 to 17 by December 2016 and expulsions reduced to zero.

Across the South West region there are now seven LOOKOUT Centre staff, who are working to boost the capacity of schools, carers, and child protection workers to ensure students in care get a good education.

Staff at the South Western Victoria Region LOOKOUT Centre have so far trained 465 teachers in government schools and 43 in Catholic schools across the region to be Designated Teachers.

These Designated Teachers will act as advocates for kids in care, ensuring high expectations for their learning and development and ensuring the best interests of every child is given the highest priority.

The aim is for every school in Victoria to have a trained Designated Teacher by the end of the year and training has now started with Catholic schools in the South West region.

The Andrews Labor Government has now opened three more LOOKOUT Centres covering the rest of the state.

More information on LOOKOUT centres is available here: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/educationstate/Pages/lookout.aspx

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino

“It is incredibly exciting that LOOKOUT is showing such promising results for students in out-of-home care.”

“Many of these students need a helping hand to remain engaged and thrive at school. By expanding LOOKOUT we can improve the lives of these students and make sure that they get the best out of their education and reach their full potential.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“Children in out of home care are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and the Andrews Labor Government is working to give them better life outcomes.”

“The results of this trial show that LOOKOUT is having a profound impact on vulnerable children’s lives.”

Quote attributable to Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney

“A good education sets us up for life. LOOKOUT is already making a real difference to the lives of young people in out-of-home care in South West Victoria.”

Background: LOOKOUT Changing Students Lives

LOOKOUT Education Support Centres employ education and allied health staff to give children in out-of-home care a better chance of doing well at school.

This includes children in:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Permanent Care – when a child or young person is placed in the permanent care of an existing foster carer or kinship carer.

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 the student’s best interests; and
  • 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 a Partnering Agreement. This includes ensuring that all students have an Individual Education Plan, a Student Support Group and a Learning Mentor.

Under the LOOKOUT program Victorian schools will have a “Designated Teacher”. These teachers are 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 monitors students’ Individual Education Plans to ensure they are meeting their learning goals.

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