Katrina Stratton

Biography

Katrina has an extensive practice and research history with children and families across the government, not-for-profit and university sectors. As Coordinator for Reseach and Evaluation at Wanslea Family Services, Katrina is responsible for developing and implementing a research strategy and building research culture across the organisation. Wanslea recently received a substantial grant from Lotterywest to partner with three WA universities to undertake research with Grandparent Carers.

Abstract

There is an ever-increasing pressure for practitioners and organisations to demonstrate the evidence-base they are working from as well as the impact they have with the children and families they serve. Yet many face barriers of costs, sector and organisational culture, expertise and engagement in building research capacity and culture.

For reasons related to best practice, improving outcomes, ethics, serving mission, and funding, research and evaluation must be a core activity rather than add-on for human services practitioners and organisations.

Wanslea Family Services, a West Australian not-for-profit organisation delivering services to families and children, has established a strong track record and reputation in research and evaluation. Wanslea has recently been awarded a million dollar grant to undertake research with grandparent carers, in partnership with three WA universities and other key stakeholders.

Learning from the process, resources and strategies utilised to build this capacity and culture will be shared to encourage others to consider the possibilities in their own organisation. Key to Wanslea’s success has been vision, engagement of the Board and leadership, collaboration and partnership particularly with universities, involving practitioners directly in research activity, recruiting in-house expertise, developing infrastructure, and sharing findings and practice implications.
This presentation will encourage practitioners and leaders to consider whether we want to lead or be led in establishing research, evaluation and outcomes measurement as a core part of our service development, delivery and planning.

Abstract

Depsite grandparent care being the fastest growing form of out of home care for Australian children for some years, little is known about the experience or profile of grandparent carers or the impact of their caring role. The result is grandparent carers are often a hidden population, with a complex and likewise hidden policy and service framework to identify and address their needs.

There is mounting evidence of improved outcomes for children placed in kinship care, with more stability and less disruption in their placements, continuity of family ties and identity, greater familiarity with cultural practices and existing attachment relationships. Yet there is also evidence of the struggles – emotional, financial, health, familial and social – that grandparents face in raising their grandchildren.

Understanding the specific needs of grandparents carers is essential to ensure adequate structures are in place to sustain grandparents in their caring role and create best possible outcomes for the children in their care.

Wanslea, the largest service provider to grandparent carers in WA, has recently been awarded a near one-million dollar grant to conduct a two year research project with grandparent carers. The purpose of the research is to inform advocacy, policy and service development for grandparent carers.

This presentation will outline how a research agenda with grandparent carers was established, managing multiple stakeholders, creating research partnerships with universities, engaging funding as well as a preview of the research aims and methodology.

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