19 August 2022

To help improve literacy rates in Australian children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC), Life Without Barriers launched the 2022 Hook into Books campaign this Book Week.

Hook into Books promotes a love of stories: sharing, telling, reading and listening to stories with children and young people in out-of-home care to enhance their literacy skills and give them a solid foundation for future learning.

Director of Education at Life Without Barriers, Dale Murray said, as a major provider of out-of-home care for children and young people in Australia, Life Without Barriers recognises the role they play to ensure children and young people have the best start in life, but also to support them to reach their educational goals.

“Education engagement and attainment is one of the most protective factors for children in out-of-home care both now and in their futures. Books provide kids and families with a place to escape into imagination, it fosters creativity and bonding.

“The simple act of getting books into the hand of a child in care has the power to launch greater confidence in education. For children in care, disruptions in placement and past trauma can impact a child’s literacy and they can lose access to something as simple as books.

“Hook into Books provides a specific focus on working with authors, foster carers and children to provide interesting books and support carers to read with children. It encourages young people and families to take a break from the day by diving into the imagination and creativity books can bring.

According to 2021 the National Assessment Programme Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results, 92 per cent of children in OOHC are below the average reading level at the age of seven and in the same cohort, 57 per cent of young people complete 12 years of school (compared to 72 % of their peers).

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has identified that children in OOHC have less opportunity to progress to post-secondary education or training and are more likely to experience unemployment and lower wages and enter the criminal justice system.

“The more we share, read and listen to stories the better the literacy outcomes are for our children and young people,” Mr Murray said.

“A successful education journey is essential for a positive future. However, many children and young people growing up in foster or kinship care are at risk of not achieving their educational potential as they are often impacted by complex histories and challenges.

“This year we are reaching more carers, children and young people in the system by partnering with other large OOHC providers in Australia including Berry Street and Key Assets.

The campaign is not possible without the support of fantastic Aussie Authors including Jackie French, Mick Elliot, Hakea Hustler and Carl Merrison, Zoe Norton-Lodge. Yvette Poshoglian and Michelle Worthington. The Hook into Books campaign offers a mix of accessible information, resources, and fun activities to engage and inspire the love of stories and storytelling.

The Hook into Books campaign ends on 1 October 2022. To learn more visit: https://www.lwb.org.au/our-approach/education-unit/hook-into-books/

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