On 17 July 2014, the Senate referred the following matter to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report.
The Terms of Reference are:
Out of home care, including;
- drivers of the increase in the number of children placed in out of home care, types of care that are increasing and demographics of the children in care,
- the outcomes for children in out of home care (including kinship care, foster care and residential care) versus staying in the home;
- current models for out of home care, including kinship care, foster care and residential care;
- current cost of Australia‘s approach to care and protection;
- consistency of approach to out of home care around Australia;
- what are the supports available for relative/kinship care, foster care and residential care;
- best practice in out of home care in Australia and internationally;
- consultation with individuals, families and communities affected by removal of children from the home;
- extent of children in out of home care remaining connected to their family of origin; and
- best practice solutions for supporting children in vulnerable family situations including early intervention.
Submissions were sought by 31 October 2014. The committee must report by the second sitting week in February 2015. On 4 December 2014, the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until 13 May 2015. On 12 May 2015, the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until 12 August 2015.