kContact – improving contact between parents and children in out-of-home care: the main outcomes from a cluster randomized controlled trial

Stream: Child safety and protection
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.10 pm


This paper reports on the main outcomes of an Australian cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) with 183 children in permanent or long-term placements who were having supervised contact with their parents. The intervention aimed to improve contact between parents and children in out-of-home care (OOHC) and consisted of an enhanced practice model whereby the family case managers provided more systematic supports to the parents before and after each contact visit.

Baseline interviews were conducted with 90 parents, 127 carers and 181 agency workers at the project sites, which were then randomised to either intervention or control sites. The kContact intervention was delivered for 6-9 months by the family case managers at the OOHC services, supported and trained by the kContact intervention coordinator. Follow-up interviews were concluded late 2018 and data from these interviews will be used to assess the effectiveness of the intervention.

The outcomes of the trial will be reported in this paper including child-wellbeing, parent-child relationships, reduction in the cancellation of contact visits, carers and workers ability to support family contact. We will also report some methodological and implementation issues involved in conducting a large-scale intervention trial across three child protection jurisdictions in Australia.

These are the main findings from the first cluster RCT on a contact intervention. By increasing the evidence base in this area, the study outcomes can be used to better guide policy and practice of contact visits in the OOHC context and improve outcomes for the children and their families.


Aino Suomi (Presenter), Institute of Child Protection Studies
Aino is a clinically trained psychologist and has been working in research on vulnerable populations with a specific family focus for the last 14 years. Her PhD examined clinical family assessments at the Children’s Court Clinic of Victoria examining parents’ mental health problems, violence and addictions in court decision-making. She has also published extensively on family violence and gambling, family interventions for PTSD and family impacts of addictions. Aino has been managing kContact study since 2016 through her employment at the Institute of Child Protection Studies, ACU.