Maintaining family-based placements for children and young people with disabilities

Llewellyn, G., Bundy, A., Mayes, R., McConnell, D., Emerson, E., & Brentnall, J. (submitted). Development and psychometric properties of The Family Life Interview. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.

Project team

University of Sydney and NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC)

Prof Gwynnyth Llewellyn
Prof Anita Bundy
Dr Rachel Mayes
Rebecca Barton
Dr Carmen Jarrett
Professor David McConnell
Alison Wannan (NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care)


This project was undertaken by the University of Sydney in partnership with the NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC) and was funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Scheme (2005-2007).

The purpose of this study is to enable families with children and young people with severe disabilities to continue to care for their child at home. These families face significant challenges in juggling the demands of work, family and care.


The project aimed to build systems capacity to enable families to continue caring for their children with severe disabilities at home by:

  • designing a psychometrically sound instrument to assess the integration of work, family, and care demands in everyday family life that is essential to maintaining family-based placement.


A clinical tool, the Family Life Interview (FLI), was designed and piloted to examine sustainability of family routines. The FLI, a self-report instrument completed by a parent following an in-depth semi-structured interview, was administered to 118 parents, with re-test interviews conducted with 44 parents. Rasch analysis was used to examine scale structure, evidence for construct validity and precision of measurement of the FLI items. Logistic regression was used to explore the contribution of the FLI to predicting out-of-home placement scores.

Findings and implications

The FLI produced valid data on the sustainability of family routines. The FLI was found to be useful for predicting families at risk of seeking out-of-home placement driven by crisis. It differentiated between families at risk of placing their child in out of home care, those who are managing and those who are thriving.

This tool offers practitioners a psychometrically sound instrument designed to illuminate the particularity of each family’s circumstances, critical to developing interventions for increasing the sustainability of families’ routines.

Related Publications

Llewellyn, G., Dunn, P., Fante, M., Turnbull, L., & Grace, R. (1999). Family factors influencing out-of-home placement decisions. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 43(3), 219-241.

Llewellyn, G., & McConnell, D. (under review). Out-of-home placement of school-aged children with disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.

Llewellyn, G., Thompson, K., Whybrow, S., McConnell, D., Bratel, J., Coles, D., & Waring, C. (2003). Supporting families: Family well-being and children with disabilities. School of Occupation & Leisure Sciences. Sydney: University of Sydney. ISBN 186487 556 9

Llewellyn, G., Thompson, K., & Whybrow, S. (2004). Activism as a mothering occupation. In S. Esdaile & J. Olsen (Eds.). Mothering occupations: Challenge, agency and participation. (pp. 282-305). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Publishers.