This morning I read an interesting narrative review of fifteen evaluation studies of trauma-informed care training for foster and adoptive parents (and kinship carers):
Lotty, M, Bantry-White, E, & Dunn-Galvin, A, (2021) Trauma-informed care psychoeducational group-based interventions for foster carers and adoptive parents: A narrative review. Adoption and Fostering, 45(2), 191-214
The review drew the following conclusions:
- that there is evidence for the effectiveness of trauma-informed training for those who care for children and young people who are recovering from a tough start to life (albeit, the evidence in the studies they reviewed was mixed);
- that effective trauma-informed training incorporates psychoeducation, reflective engagement, and skills building;
- that the success of trauma-informed training for carers is likely to be enhanced by parallel practitioner training (eg child welfare staff, schools);
- that kinship carers have different (training) support needs; and
- that there is a need for more evaluation of training initiatives in this area.
While reading the review I felt both validated and frustrated. Validated, that my own training programs (The (Kinship) CARE Curriculum and The Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care) are consistent with the conclusions drawn by these authors about what makes for effective and valued training initiatives in this space. Frustrated by difficulties that exist in conducting formal evaluation studies in this area, including for my own programs, including:
- The Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care Implementation in the TUSLA Fostering Service, Donegal, Ireland (ongoing);
- The Kinship CARE Project, a two-year project delivered to statutory kinship carers in South Australia (2018-2020); and
- Martinthi, an ongoing project to deliver trauma-informed training in an Aboriginal Kinship Care support program in South Australia.
My frustration arises as in all of my training endeavours I do have a parallel evaluation methodology, but lack the time and resources to collate the data we have into articles for publication. I am a sole practitioner with significant psychotherapy commitments and I often joke that I am more a therapist than a trainer when delivering my programs. I have also had the experience that evaluation data demonstrating the effectiveness and worth of training endeavours not being sufficient to ensure its continued support.
In any event, I am pleased to say that I am about to embark on a two-year implementation project in an independent school supporting trauma-informed practice, and that there are plans to conduct a formal evaluation of the intervention. The project will involve the delivery of trauma informed training and support, following a methodology recommended in the article above, reflecting my existing program for schools (Connected Classrooms), which has has been implemented in South Australia and by my trained trainers in Ireland.
It is the case that I have been fortunate to able to develop and implement content and programs consistent with the conclusions above. Both the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care and the (Kinship) CARE Curriculum incorporate psychoeducation, reflective engagement, and skills building, parallel training and mentoring for support professionals, and a complementary training program for educators/schools. There are separate curricula for foster and kinship carers, recognising their similarities and their different needs. There is a new curricula that recognises the particular needs of Australian Aboriginal children and their kinship carers.
I look forward to contributing more in this vital area of endeavour. If you would like to read more about my work, I would recommend A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). Best wishes.