Attachment in children living in alternative care

Manuela Garcia Quiroga

Manuela Garcia Quiroga, PhD student in the School of Psychology, has recently published a paper which suggests that the attachment bond which children in alternative care establish for their carers, differs from that of the attachment established by family-raised children.

Children establish a special bond with their parents, called attachment, but what happens when they are not raised in their families? What happens when they live in children's homes or foster families? Do they establish an attachment with alternative carers? And if they do, is attachment quality similar to that observed in family-raised children? Manuela’s paper revises the studies that have been conducted with children living in institutions and foster families in order to answer these questions. Main findings suggest that children can establish an attachment with temporary carers, however, the quality of attachment differs from that of family-raised children. This process is mediated by several factors present in Institutions (such as quality of care), carers (such as sensitivity) and children (such as age and gender).

The paper, which was published in Child Youth Care Forum, reviews studies that have been conducted in this topic across different countries. Most studies have been conducted in Europe and USA; more research in less developed countries is needed.

Garcia Quiroga, M. and Hamilton-Giachritsis, C., 2015. Attachment styles in children living in alternative care: a systematic review of the literature. Child and Youth Care Forum