Home for Life evaluation

Home for Life Evaluation Findings (pdf)
01 Nov 2012

The Centre for Social Research and Evaluation (CSRE) evaluated the Home for Life policy to examine the research evidence for the policy, how the policy was working (including short term safety and stability measures) and remaining barriers to children achieving a Home for Life. The evaluation was conducted between April and July 2012, eighteen months after Home for Life was first implemented. The findings are based on analysis of New Zealand and international care research, stakeholder interviews and Child, Youth and Family (CYF) administrative data.


The Centre for Social Research and Evaluation (CSRE) was asked by the CYF Executive Committee to evaluate the Home for Life policy; to see which aspects of the policy were working well and which aspects required attention, and to provide short-term measures for safety and stability for children who had achieved a home for life.

Seven questions framed the evaluation.

  1. What research evidence supports the Home for Life policy?
  2. Which aspects of the policy are working well and which aspects require attention and need to be modified?
  3. How do rates of permanent placement of children compare for the periods before and after the introduction of Home for Life?
  4. What is the short-term safety and stability for children placed permanently with whānau or non-whānau caregivers through Home for Life?
  5. What differences are evident between the Home for Life families who take custody orders and those who don’t take up orders?
  6. What distinguishes Home for Life families who have NGO support in place from those without this support?
  7. What barriers (if any) to achieving a Home for Life for children are evident and how could these be addressed?


The evaluation used a mixed-methods approach. This involved a document and a literature review, key informant interviews and analysis of CYF administrative data (CYRAS) to measure rates of permanent placement and short-term stability and safety outcomes for children who had achieved a home for life.

The review of the research literature covered fifty-two national and international care studies. Documents reviewed included Home for Life and related policies, practice guidelines and communications and Home for Life Ministerial correspondence.

Thirty interviews (face to face, telephone and video conference) were conducted with sixty–one individuals. Interviews with stakeholders were weighted towards CYF staff with two sites visited and nine sites participating in video conference interviews. CYF staff interviewed included managers (9), practice leaders (8), supervisors (8), social workers (14), solicitors (6) and national office advisors (1).

For the NGO Home for Life support providers interviews were held with the three managers responsible for Home for Life, the Home for Life Contact Centre manager, two team leaders and one Home for Life support worker.

Caregivers were under represented in our interview sample due to scheduling challenges. Eight Home for Life caregivers were interviewed; six whānau caregivers and two non-whānau caregivers. Consequently findings on caregiver’s experiences of Home for Life are indicative only and may not represent the wider view.

Telephone interviews were held with one representative from Fostering Kids and one representative from Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Feedback from some Family Court Judges on Home for Life was obtained by the Acting Principal Court Judge, who noted that due to the minimal timeframe, there was minimal consultation with the Judges and only a small amount of feedback on Home for Life was obtained.

Children were not interviewed. About half of the children placed under Home for Life were under five years old and would not have been appropriate to interview. It was considered unlikely that older children would discern differences that could be attributed to the introduction of this policy.  

Short-term stability and safety outcomes were drawn using CYRAS data for the sample of 354 children who exited from CYF care to a Home for Life placement from 1 March to 1 September 2011.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018