• October 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 7

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Infant-Caregiver Attachment Linked to Improved Child Welfare Outcomes

A model intervention that promotes infant-caregiver attachment shows promise for improving outcomes for babies and toddlers in the child welfare system, according to a recent article in Child Abuse & Neglect.

The Early Childhood Center of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine developed the Infant Parent Court Project model with New York City's Bronx Family Court. The model was created to address shortcomings in child welfare cases involving children under age 3, which were primarily a reliance on generic interventions that fail to recognize the importance of relationship-based therapy to the developing child. The model was tested in the Bronx, a New York City borough with high poverty and foster care rates.

The Infant Parent Court Project relies on evidence-based child-parent psychotherapy (CPP) as the core intervention for securing the emotional bonds and attachment between infant and primary caregiver. CPP focuses on teaching the parent how to read and respond to a baby's cues and understand infant and toddler developmental needs. The model emphasizes collaboration between CPP clinicians, judges, child welfare workers, attorneys, and mental health providers to promote informed case planning and permanency decisions.

The article evaluates the model using psychosocial measures and program outcome data and finds improved parenting interactions, increased rates of family reunification, fewer returns to foster care, and overall improved safety and well-being for families undergoing CPP. Additionally, the article reports that the project helped achieve a reunification rate of 86 percent, which is significantly higher than the nationally documented rate for infants and toddlers. The findings also show an improvement in participants' parenting capacity, which is attributed to collaborative efforts by ancillary services once their families' individual and complex needs were better understood.

"Improving Outcomes for Babies and Toddlers in Child Welfare: A Model for Infant Mental Health Intervention and Collaboration," by Susan Chinitz, Hazel Guzman, Ellen Amstutz, Joaniko Kohchi, and Miriam Alkon (Child Abuse & Neglect, 70) is available at http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0145213417302119/1-s2.0-S0145213417302119-main.pdf?_tid=dbeb5f7a-88dd-11e7-88eb-00000aacb362&acdnat=1503587392_bc7ef26336cfaca0fc9090d69ab8089c.

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