July/August 2004Vol. 5, No. 6Study Finds Supervised Visitation Beneficial for Young Children in Foster Care
Young children in foster care who have frequent contact with their biological parents and fewer placements are more likely to have secure attachments, according to a study published in the April 2004 issue of Family Relations. In addition, those with secure attachments have fewer behavioral and emotional problems than children with less secure attachments.
The study examined the quality of attachment of 123 children under the age of 6 who were in foster care. All children had reunification as the primary case goal. Children were found to be more likely to have stronger levels of parent-child attachment if they:
- Had more completed supervised visits with their biological parents
- Had more consistent supervised visits with their biological parents
- Had been in foster care for a shorter period of time.
Quality of attachment was also examined in relationship to indicators of children's adjustments. Findings indicate that children with higher levels of attachment:
- Were less likely to be classified as developmentally delayed
- Were less likely to take medication for behavioral issues
- Had fewer behavioral problems.
The authors suggest these results point to the need for caseworkers to support parents in participating in supervised visitation. This could include assisting with transportation or scheduling visits that do not conflict with parents' work schedules. In addition, the authors indicate research such as this can assist caseworkers in emphasizing to parents the importance of visits, helping parents understand that attending visitation is not just a task that must be completed in order to comply with the case plan but is important for the child's overall well-being.
The article, "Improving the Lives of Children in Foster Care: The Impact of Supervised Visitation," is available in Family Relations, 53(3), published by the National Council on Family Relations. Journal and subscription information are available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291741-3729.