22 August 2023

To help improve literacy rates in Australian children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC), Life Without Barriers launched the 2023 Hook into Books™ campaign this Book Week.

Hook into Books™ is a national campaign led by Life Without Barriers’ dedicated education unit. The unit aspires to see all children and young people in OOHC have opportunities to learn to love reading, engaging with stories and enhancing their literacy journey.  

Research shows children in OOHC care are struggling to reach minimum national literacy benchmarks and need support and intervention to bridge this worrying gap which has the potential to substantially impact their engagement in education and transition to employment. Further research indicates that if a child has more than 30 books in the home, this significantly enhances expressive vocabulary.

Executive Director of Education at Life Without Barriers, Dale Murray said, that 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.

“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.

Only 82% of students in care in Year 3 meet the national minimum standard in NAPLAN Reading, compared to 95% nationally and about 57% of young people in care (aged 18-25) completed Year 12 or equivalent, compared to 85% nationally.

The Hook into Books™ campaign has already sent over 250 individualised packs of books for children in need and 20 suitcases filled with stories to every state across Australia where Life Without Barriers delivers services. In 2023, with their continued partnership with Berry Street and Key Assets, the organisation is on track to reach more young people and families than ever before.  

“This becomes all the more important when you consider that educational engagement and attainment is one of the most protective factors for children in out-of-home care both now and in their futures,” Mr Murray said.

“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 a book – this campaign aims to change that by getting children and their foster families excited about reading again.

“I want to thank authors like Jackie French, Nelly Thomas, Kristen Darrell, Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler and others who dedicate their time to help make this campaign happen.”

The Hook into Books campaign ends on 8 September 2023. To learn more visit: https://www.lwb.org.au/our-approach/education-unit/hook-into-books/

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