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Fostering Attachments


The Fostering Attachments Group has been set up by CAMHS to support adoptive parents and long-term foster carers who are caring for a child with attachment difficulties.

It is an 18-week programme run by Dr Kathryn Lewis, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, and one or two other experienced CAMHS specialists.

The group begins in June and ends in December with breaks for school holidays, and usually takes place on Tuesday evenings from 5.30-7.30pm.

Parents and carers can be referred to the group by any CAMHS clinician, who will stay involved with them as additional support for the duration of the group.

Background and purpose of the group

Most children living in foster or adoptive families have lived through the trauma of leaving their birth families and adjusting to a new family. Many of these children have had difficult early experiences such as abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence, and drug or alcohol addiction. For some children this may have started before birth.

Early experiences of inadequate parenting, being separated and losing family members are likely to leave their mark. In particular, looked after and adopted children have a greater risk of developing attachment problems.

Attachment problems

Attachment problems are when a child struggles to trust a carer, affecting the relationship pattern that develops between them.

Some children become very clingy, some find it extremely threatening to be close, and some have a combination of these styles in different situations.

When this happens, the child has difficulties in feeling secure and getting comfort from the carer. Attachment problems also lead to higher risk of developing emotional, social and learning problems.

Foster carers and adoptive parents need to find special ways of parenting these children to help them to have a positive attachment experience and develop good emotional health. To do this successfully, parents and carers need support and guidance in understanding and managing the children in their care.

Aims of the group

  • give support to carers and parents who can feel very isolated caring for children with attachment difficulties
  • increase understanding of the children’s behaviour and emotional needs
  • increase the skills and confidence of carers and parents

How to join the group

If you are interested in being referred to the group, please speak to your CAMHS clinician. Recruitment to the group takes place from January to March.

Comments from previous attendees

“We found the sessions useful because they gave us a greater understanding of the behaviour of children and young people who have suffered neglect or other kinds of abuse. We would strongly recommend the attachment group training to other carers.”

“We found the Fostering Attachments Group really helpful in dealing with both our adopted daughters. It helps you to understand their behaviour and how to deal with it. Our daughters are still not easy children but the group has given us the confidence to change our parenting skills and adapt our lives to help them bond with us.”

“We loved the relaxed and informal nature of the group, we were never judged for how we parented our son, and always supported by the group leaders and other group members. It was so helpful to meet others in the same or similar position to us, which helped us to put our own experience with our son in context. We also found the knowledge gained around how the brain of a child develops, how early life neglect can impact on emotional development, and how with therapeutic parenting the resulting behaviour can be modified over time, most helpful and that gave us real hope for the future.”

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