Skip to main content

Power to Kids

Power to Kids was designed and implemented by MacKillop Family Services in partnership with the University of Melbourne.

The Power to Kids program was designed to respond to the high risk of child exploitation, harmful sexual behaviour and dating violence for young people in care. The project was designed in consultation with an expert advisory group of key researchers, policy makers and practitioners working in the field of child sexual abuse.

Two knowledge to action research projects have been conducted, responding to the specific needs of young people in both residential care and home-based care.

The Power to Kids in home-based care research evaluation built upon the successful implementation of Power to Kids in residential care and found a tailored approach was required to support foster carers to be equipped and confident to respond to the challenges of sexual exploitation, harmful sexual behaviour and dating violence.

The residential care research conducted through this project identified three prevention strategies that form the core of the program: whole-of-house respectful relationships and sexuality education; missing from home strategy; and sexual safety response.

The program was piloted and evaluated in MacKillop residential care homes. You can read the evaluation summary and full evaluation report below. Power to Kids is now being implemented across all MacKillop homes and, through The MacKillop Institute, to all residential care providers in Australia.

The MacKillop Institute was established by MacKillop Family Services to build the capacity of external organisations to deliver best-practice, trauma-informed services to support children, young people and families who have experienced change, loss and trauma.

*MacKillop acknowledges the John T Reid Charitable Trust, The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare for supporting this research.


McKibbin, G., Bornemisza, A., Humphreys, C. (2022) Power to Kids in home-based care: Evaluation report (Research report). Melbourne.

Gemma McKibbin (2017) ‘Preventing Harmful Sexual Behaviour and Child Sexual Exploitation for children & young people living in residential care: A scoping review in the Australian context’, Children and Youth Services Review, 82 (2017) 373–382.

Gemma McKibbin, Nick Halfpenny & Cathy Humphreys (2019) ‘Respecting Sexual Safety: A Program to Prevent Sexual Exploitation and Harmful Sexual Behaviour in Out-of-Home Care’, Australian Social Work, DOI: 10.1080/0312407X.2019.1597910