Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care

National Clinical Assessment Framework - March 2011 - Information for General Practitioners

Page last updated: 20 January 2012

The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009 – 2020 was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments on 30 April 2009. It represents a long-term, national approach to help protect all Australian children and was developed through a strong partnership between governments and the non-government sector.

A number of reforms and actions are being implemented under the first National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children. One of these is the development of the National Clinical Assessment Framework for Children and Young People in out-of-home care. This document can be found below.

What is the National Clinical Assessment Framework

The overarching goal of the National Clinical Assessment Framework for Children and Young People in out-of-home care (the Framework) is to improve responses to the health needs of children and young people in out-of-home care and ultimately improve their health outcomes. Specifically, the Framework aims to provide better consistency and improve coordination of health care assessments and services for all children and young people in out-of-home care.

The Framework has been developed in consultation with a range of government and non-government stakeholders with a focus on child protection, clinical and consumer issues. The Framework is based on a tiered approach to age-appropriate assessments covering the key domains of physical, developmental, psycholosocial and mental health. The Framework document can be found below.

What is out-of-home care?

Children or young people may enter out-of-home care due to substantiated child protection concerns, because their parents are incapable of providing adequate care or because alternative accommodation is required during a time of family difficulty/conflict.

A child or young person may enter out-of-home care on a temporary or long term basis. This can influence the type of health assessments undertaken and the level of health care provided.

Health status of children and young people in out-of-home care

Children and young people in out-of-home care often have complex health needs that may be unrecognised and unmet. They tend to have poor physical health, developmental delays and compromised mental health. They also have a lower rate of immunisation uptake compared to their peers. Significantly, children and young people in out-of-home care tend to experience very limited access to health resources that are otherwise routinely available to the rest of the community. To further compound this situation, the large number of placements experienced by some children in out-of-home care often leads to reduced availability of information about their past medical history, inconsistent maintenance of accurate information about their current health status and consequently poor continuity of health care.

Medicare items suitable for use when working with Children and Young People in out-of-home care

The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, on behalf of the Child Health and Wellbeing Subcommittee, has developed a document for distribution to General Practitioners. This document outlines Medicare items that might be suitable for undertaking health checks and ongoing treatment and monitoring for children in out-of-home care. These items are set out at Appendix C of the Framework document. The Framework and Appendix C can be found below.


For more information please contact the relevant Department of Health in your state or territory. Website links can be found at the bottom of this web page.