199046 Benefits of attachment focused interventions for children in foster care

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jennifer Pepperman, MSW , Programs Director, Hope For Kids Specialized Foster Care Progam, State College, PA
Daniel Hughes, PhD , Licensed Psychologist, Quittie Glen Center for Mental Health, Annville, PA
The foster care system, as it is currently run, places already vulnerable children at great risk for further developing significant behavioral, psychological, educational, and social problems. These problems often permanently alter the trajectory of the children's life course whether they return to their biological family or find permanency in another home. Foster children represent a public health risk and resource drain since programs from multiple human service systems are often needed to address their complex myriad of problems. Despite the efforts of the serving systems, research has demonstrated that foster children continue to experience placement disruptions and to have poor overall outcomes, in part because the children's underlying attachment and interpersonal deficits are not addressed by traditional interventions that focus on behavioral compliance and foster parents lack training and support to deal with the behavioral manifestations of the children's serious interpersonal deficits. Current policies and practice in the foster care system therefore reinforce and perpetuate the children's attachment problems. When attachment, abandonment, loss, and grief issues are dealt with then the foster children are more ready for permanency when it is available. Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) is an attachment focused treatment and parenting model that has demonstrated clinical success in addressing the symptoms of attachment problems among children who have experienced significant interfamilial trauma. Early results from an on going study demonstrate reductions in trauma symptoms, declines in clinically significant behavioral symptomatology, and improvements in executive functioning among foster children in a specialized foster care program who receive outpatient DDP.

Learning Objectives:
Identify the risk factors associated with placement in foster care. Discuss policy and practice issues that perpetuate attachment disorganization in children placed in the foster care system. Define symptoms and implications of attachment problems in children. Differentiate between behavioral focused and attachment focused interventions. Explain the principles of the Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Model.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 10 plus years experience working in and managing a foster care agency. My research on the effectiveness of attachment focused mental health services for children has occurred under the direction of Temple University faculty, under the guidance of Dr. Daniel Hughes who developed the Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy model, and under the supervision of Pamela McCloskey, licensed psychologist. I have received accommendation from Dr. Barry Nazar, Temple University, as a student researcher. In 1996 I was honored with the PA Psychological Associations Undergraduate Student Research Award.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.