Completed for the Victorian Department of Human Services (2009-11)
The Department of Human Services commenced the first therapeutic residential care program in May 2007. This expanded to a further ten therapeutic residential care units, operated by community service organisations as four-year pilot programs. The pilots trialled and assessed an approach to residential care that focuses on understanding and responding in a therapeutic manner to the impact of trauma on a child and young person’s development.
Verso Consulting completed a two-year independent evaluation of the therapeutic residential care programs in late 2011. The project included the development of a series of reports that demonstrate a sound understanding of trauma and attachment theory and developmental needs. The evaluation resulted in significant new investment and policy development.
This was a 24 month project evaluating 12 pilot sites against a comparison group, and included consultations with sector stakeholders, 6 client case studies and data collection for 38 clients across a minimum of 5 time points each. Verso completed an Ethics Application for this project, and provided progress evidence to support a Victorian Cabinet Economic Review Committee (ERC) bid.
The evaluation included consultation with a broad range of stakeholders (interview and workshop/focus group), liaison with a number of agencies conducting pilots and time series analysis of client and comparison group data. Data was gathered using three psychometric tools with approximately 170 data points for each of the 38 young people. Reporting this data also required a clear, considered format and presentation.
Liaison with indigenous agencies and young people was a specific requirement of the project and required consultations to be undertaken with sensitivity and compassion. Consultation with stakeholders included a detailed survey of agencies and employees. The final report can be downloaded from the Department of Human Services website here
Dr James Anglin, a professor at the University of Victoria in Canada and author of Pain, Normality and the Struggle for Congruence: Reinterpreting Residential Care for Children and Youth (Haworth, 2002), provided the following comments on the quality and impact of the Verso evaluation:
“I want to congratulate you on an impressive evaluation report on the TRC pilots… I made the comment that the TRC initiative and this evaluation of two-year outcomes puts Australia (especially the state of Victoria) on the world map in terms of innovations in residential care. For many years Australia did not really show up in research or practice meetings regarding child and youth care or residential care for young people, but now you have important practice and research materials to share”.
The project continues to be referenced as a key piece of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of therapeutic residential care for children and young people. See Child Protection, Youth and Family Services for a list of academic citations referencing this project.