Fostering traumatized children

Children who can no longer grow up with their own parents are often placed in foster care. The out-of-home placement and prior traumatic experiences may cause insecure attachment relationships and consequently child behavior difficulties. The foster child’s puzzling behavior may in turn challenge foster parents, especially when they have difficulties with setting boundaries and emotional engagement. Because of these problems, many foster care placements (20-50%) end prematurely, moving the children to another foster family or residential care facility. This instability in upbringing threatens children’s wellbeing and mental health.


In this dissertation, we aimed to gain knowledge on the possibilities to enhance stability in foster care. Mind-mindedness, the ability to take the child's perspective and understand the child’s feelings, emotions, and wishes, seems to be crucial in this process. A low mind-mindedness of caregivers was found to be associated with behavior problems in children.


The training ‘Caring for Children Who Experienced Trauma’ appears to increase foster parents’ mind-mindedness with a positive valence, related to parental sensitivity and establishing a secure attachment relationship. However, this foster parents’ training alone is not sufficient to diminish the risk of placement breakdown. Interventions concerning the foster child’s behavior, like attachment-based video-feedback or Treatment Foster Care, seemed to be a necessary addition. Enhancing stability in foster care placements is essential for a positive development of foster children.


This dissertation showed that treatment and interventions increasing this stability are available and appear to make a difference.

Carolina Theodora Maria Konijn | 2021
158 pagina's | Amsterdam : Universiteit van Amsterdam
Proefschrift Universiteit van Amsterdam
Caregivers, Children, Family Members, Foster Care, Interventions, Loss, Meta Analysis, Mindfulness (en), Out-of-Home Placement, Prevention, Psychotrauma, Traumatic events, Treatment