Promoting attachment in the foster family



Although children placed in foster care are particularly vulnerable, few studies have been done on their development and adaptation to their new environment.

Karine Dubois-Comtois, a researcher in the Department of Psychology at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, deplores the lack of importance accorded to the underlying relational issues. According to attachment theory, a child's development is strongly influenced by the attachment bond created with a parent or other adult in a primary caregiving role. This relationship creates a secure base from which she can learn to trust others, to develop self-confidence and to explore the world.

A training package for the relational intervention was provided through a partnership with the Québec Association of Youth Centres.

To help foster families to fulfil this role, the researcher developed a relational intervention method based on attachment theory that involves visiting the foster home, where various activities are carried out and filmed. The foster parent then watches the video with a project worker, who provides positive feedback about the foster parent's behaviour, focusing on the good moments and the positive impact of this behaviour on the development of the child.

This method was the subject of a chapter in a book published by Les Presses de l'Université du Québec and an article published in Revue québécoise de psychologie. The researcher has presented her work during the 15th Annual Day of the Association québécoise pour la santé mentale des nourrissons and at 14 different national and international conventions.The goal is to enhance the foster parent's sensitivity to the needs of the child. A training package for the relational intervention was provided to youth centre and health and social services centre workers through a partnership with the Québec Association of Youth Centres.