The Holding Children Together Service, funded by the Communities for Children initiative and the Alice Springs Transformation Plan, has been developed as an innovative service designed to fill an identified gap in therapeutic service provision for young children in Alice Springs who have experienced trauma, abuse and neglect. It does this through a unique combination of direct service delivery to children with trauma symptoms, the formation of a network of practitioners who are supported through professional development, and training and supervision informed by the latest research about the neurobiology of trauma and delivered by experts in the field. Holding Children Together has also been designed to address contextual issues in Alice Springs such as a lack of staff trained in trauma-based counselling, particularly with children, and low staff retention.
The Child Protection Research Program in the Centre for Child Development and Education at Menzies School of Health Research was contracted by Relationships Australia Northern Territory (RANT) in June 2011 to conduct an evaluation of the first twelve months of implementation of the Holding Children Together service. Holding children Together is a collaboration between RANT and the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF).
The evaluation considers the following research questions:
1.To what extent does the trauma-informed practice framework suit the context of service delivery in Alice Springs?
2.What impact has the training, supervision and practice panel support had on the knowledge, skills, confidence and practice of practitioners?
3.To what extent does the therapeutic model improve psychosocial outcomes for children receiving the service?