Adolescent Health Lab

Connect for Foster Parents

Thankfully the important role of foster parents in the provision of therapeutic care has become increasingly acknowledged. However, despite the central importance of attachment to foster care, surprisingly few attempts have been made to translate attachment into well designed and manualized interventions for this population. Instead, a wide range of clinical consultation services and education is available, yet there is remarkably little evidence for the effectiveness of most approaches (Dorsey et al., 2008).

Given the absence of attachment based and trauma informed programs for foster parents of older children and teens, Connect was adapted for use with this client group. Connect for Foster Parents provides:

1) information on attachment and trauma particularly as it relates to children between the ages of 8-19;

2) guidance on understanding the importance of sensitivity, safe haven and secure base and;

3) support in developing skills that promote parenting sensitivity and in turn increase security within the relationship between the child and foster parent.

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Children generally enter the foster care system because of a severe disruption in the quality of care they are experiencing at home. The severity and duration of children’s attachment problems while living in foster care is influenced by their prior exposure to maltreatment, the quality of caregiving they receive while in foster care and the number of placement changes that occur while in care. Every child that enters care has experienced an “attachment injury” to some extent. That is, they have lost the care of their parent at a critical moment of need, namely removal from home and significant separation from their caregiver. Such attachment problems, if misunderstood and not appropriately addressed in foster care, may exacerbate caregiver and child stress and lead to placement breakdown.

The Connect for Foster Parents program addresses issues related to attachment injuries, attachment insecurity and other attachment problems in relation to social-emotional development and mental health. Although not specifically tailored to the treatment of attachment disorders much of what is discussed is of relevance to children with these diagnoses.