Children and young people in out of home care (OOHC) often have high and unmet health needs and are more disadvantaged and vulnerable than other children. NSW Health provides coordinated health assessments and intervention for children and young people entering statutory OOHC who are expected to remain in care for longer than 90 days. The program also targets young people aged 15-17 years expected to leave care within the next year. The program which coordinates this process is called The OOHC Health Pathway program, and is an outcome of the Justice Wood, Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection in NSW.
An interagency framework
NSW Health, with the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) have developed an interagency framework to support the health assessment process, called The Model Pathway for the Comprehensive Health and Developmental Assessments for All Children and Young People Entering Out-of-Home Care. The child is at the core of the model.
The model also promotes collaboration between NSW Health, FACS, and OOHC service providers, including health professionals, other government agencies, non-government agencies and carers. A Memorandum of Understanding between NSW Health and FACS on Health Screening, Assessment, Intervention and Review for Children and young People in Out-of-Home-Care supports this collaboration.
The pathway for children and young people
Under the program, children and young people entering statutory OOHC commence a primary health assessment within 30 days of a child or young person entering OOHC.
Primary health assessment is undertaken by a broad range of health care providers, including General Practitioners, Aboriginal Medical Services and Child and Family Health Nurses. Once the relationship with a health professional is established, children, young people and carers will have someone to support them on other health and wellbeing issues, big and small (eg. nutrition, sleep, parenting, illnesses and injuries).
After the primary health assessment, the health professional may then refer the child or young person for a comprehensive multidisciplinary health assessment. On the basis of these assessments, and in partnership with the child/young person, their carer, and/or their case worker, each child or young person has a Health Management Plan developed for/with them. The Health Management Plan identifies their state of health, recommended interventions and appropriate review process.
The program also targets young people aged 15-17 years who are anticipated to leave care within the next year. Research shows that this transition is a period where there is significant risk that young people will disengage from health services. The program therefore focuses on fostering increased health literacy, establishing links with General Practice/primary health care, and supporting young people’s access to their personal medical records in the lead up to leaving care.
The importance of the OOHC Health Pathway program
The program aims to support earlier identification of health and wellbeing issues for children and young people in OOHC, providing timely intervention when required. The overall aim is to improve the short and long-term health, development and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people in OOHC, as well as support carers and placement stability.
Evaluation of the program
In 2013, an independent evaluation of the implementation of the OOHC Health Pathway program was commissioned and the evaluation report was published in 2014. In partnership with local health districts and FACS, NSW Health has refined and implemented recommendations made in the evaluation.
Contacting your local OOHC Health Pathway coordinator
Each local health district has an OOCH Health Pathway coordinator responsible for managing and coordinating referrals across all facilities in their district. The contact details for each local coordinator can be found below. To find out which local health district you live in, search for your closest town here.
||Phone: 02 4367 9658 |
| Far West
|Hunter New England
||Phone: 02 6515 1816 |
Phone: 02 4224 2900
|Mid North Coast
Phone: 02 6589 2578
|Phone: 0467 746 798 |
Phone: 02 5943 2348; 0428 275 376
Address: TBA, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650
|Nepean Blue Mountains
Phone: 02 4730 5100
PO Box 29, Cranebrook NSW 2749
Phone: 02 9462 9271
Level 2, 2C Herbert St, St Leonards NSW 2065
||Phone: 02 6603 0922
3 Roberts Close, Yamba NSW 2464
South Eastern Sydney & Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick
||Phone: 02 9382 8690
Locked Bag 21, Taren Point NSW 2229
||Phone: 02 4824 1813|
|South Western Sydney
|| Suzy Stewart
Phone: 0437 886 022
Queen St Narellan NSW 2567
24 Liverpool Rd Croydon NSW 2132
| Western NSW
Phone: 0457 099 204
| Western Sydney
Phone: 02 9881 1200
Corner Buran and Kelly Close, Mt Druitt NSW 2770