Laura Greaves, the award-winning author of eight non-fiction books about dogs, was recently awarded a Churchill Fellowship award to evaluate dog-assisted therapy programs for children living in foster care and determine best practice. She will travel to the United States of America to investigate how dog-based programs can achieve maximum positive impact for Australian children in foster care.
“Research shows that Animal-Assisted Therapy/Intervention (AAT/I) programs for traumatised children have myriad psychosocial and mental health benefits, ”said Ms Greaves, a foster parent herself.
“90 per cent of children in foster care experience trauma and there are no AAT/I programs in Australia specifically for these more than 46,000 children.”
Ms Greaves will visit the USA in late 2024 and attend American AAT/I programs facilitated by therapists, foster carers, and/or foster care agencies. She will also evaluate each program model and determine which is likely to have the greatest benefit for children in care in Australia. She can then apply her learning and determine best practices which will greatly benefit these children.
Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Trust congratulated Laura on her Fellowship. “Given the large number of children in foster care who experience trauma and mental health challenges, Laura’s Animal – Assisted Therapy programs will provide an opportunity for children in foster care to have improved health outcomes,” said Mr Davey. “Projects like these will contribute to significant changes for children living in foster care.”
“I look forward to my travels and am excited to bring back knowledge and the transformative power of animal-assisted therapy that I can directly apply to children in foster care,” added Ms Greaves.
Laura’s travels can be followed here: