Dingwall Trust

A partnership between the University of Auckland and Dingwall Trust aims to develop a model of practice and an evaluation programme for the trust's residential services.

Children on a seesaw

The partnership between the University of Auckland and Dingwall Trust originated through Associate Professor Mike O’Brien’s ties with Tim Baldwin and the engagement of then student, Davinia Abbott, in a master’s thesis to review the Launch Care to Independence (Launch) programme in 2010. The role of Mike O’Brien as supervisor overseeing the thesis development sparked ongoing concern and interest for vulnerable children, and cemented vested interest from academics in the work of Dingwall Trust.

Dingwall Trust is supportive and is encouraged by the development of progressive evidence-based practice requirements for funding purposes. The intention is to develop a model of practice and an evaluation programme for Dingwall’s Residential Services over the next 12 months. This project will be structured to ensure cohesion with each other and with Dingwall’s overarching strategic plan.

The engagement with the University of Auckland began in 2013 when Dingwall sought guidance in developing this project. Mike O’Brien and Christa Fouche supervised Jonathan Sampson, a graduate student on a summer scholarship, to aid this process. The student performed an exhaustive literature review which was then organized into a dossier of evidence-based knowledge on the issues facing care leavers, international responses and services, international legislative frameworks and various evaluative tools/ measures. This material was applied against the Launch practice framework to critically review the current model of practice and find robust evaluation tools that would ensure only specific information reflective of overarching programme goals was collected. A statement of collaboration is under development.

Another student (Lauren Glass), supervised by Christa Fouche, will develop a report on the common themes, needs and issues facing children transitioning within the care system to further support this project.

This mutually beneficial partnership has so far provided useful learning for both parties. Dingwall Trust offered University of Auckland researchers and students opportunities to engage meaningfully in projects which have a direct impact on services in residential care and the broader field of services to young people. In turn, the University offered Dingwall Trust credible support which can be used to affirm and improve current programme practices. The flexible partnership continues to allow opportunities to:
• Explore ethical dilemmas and issues of confidentiality in data collection
• Build knowledge of the care sector nationally and internally
• Enhance knowledge and skills in evaluation research in practice

We are confident that ongoing collaboration will continue to produce opportunities to support strategic organisational objectives in the area of research and evaluation development for Dingwall and for University staff and students to be involved in developing robust and credible pieces of work in practice.