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AN AMERICAN academic is to run a five-year study of NSW children who are removed from their parents and placed in foster care in the hope of finding ways to stop them becoming troubled teenagers.
The State Government has commissioned an expert from the University of Chicago to run the study. It follows, coincidentally, a report from the retired judge James Wood, who warned that children in out-of-home care often went on to have troubled lives.
The Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney, said previous smaller studies had shown that children who grew up in out-of-home care did not do as well in life as those who remained living with their parents in a functioning home.
"The study aims to involve at least 1000 children in out-of-home care across three separate age categories - infants under one, four to five year olds and 12 to 13 year olds," Ms Burney said.
"In particular, Community Services is interested in why some children cannot live stable lives and need to be moved from carer to carer and the effect that different types of care - such as foster or kinship care - has on the life outcomes for children."
Ms Burney said a team from the Chapin Hall Centre for Children, led by Professor Fred Wulczyn, had been appointed to help design the study, and to lead the analysis of information collected about the experiences of NSW children in care.
Professor Wulczyn told the Herald that studies had shown that children who had spent time living away from their families often lagged behind their peers academically once they started school.
Mr Wood's report, published last month, said NSW had 14,000 children living in alternative care after they were removed from their parents, including more than 4000 Aboriginal children. His report said the total number of children was expected to rise to 19,495 by 2012.
Ms Burney said: "Some of the areas that will be looked at include family, school, community, early learning and performance in school.