As caregivers, many of us have heard about the theory of attachment – but how do we put that into practice to better connect with the children in our care? Fostering Kids New Zealand have researched internationally to provide a programme to support caregivers to do just that.
Last month Sally Moffatt and Rob Surtees trialled the programme – called “Foundation for Attachment” over three days in Palmerston North – to rave reviews from caregivers. This is the first time this programme has been delivered in New Zealand.
Fostering Kids New Zealand vision is to help caregivers form stronger bonds with the children in their care – to help them form secure attachments and trusting relationships.
They didn’t want to simply teach behaviour management, because they knew that wouldn’t work without a strong connection. “Connection before correction” is one of the key themes of the training.
As a therapist working in the area – Rob has seen how disheartening it can be for caregivers who feel the relationship is a one way street with children and young people who don’t respond to widely used behaviour management techniques.
“Carers will try and try – but without the right supports and strategies it becomes more difficult to connect with children. Due to trauma they have experienced it is hard for children to trust and they can either act out or withdraw from the relationship,” he said.
There are many programmes out there, which talk about the importance of attachment – and this programme fills the gap by providing the tools and strategies to connect with the child.
As you may be aware, Fostering Kids New Zealand has over the past 4 years spent time researching evidence based programmes and developing a model of support for caregivers. This programme, within the model is attachment, relationship and trauma informed, and was developed for kids in care and protection. Sally said, “There are very few programmes developed specifically for that group which are trauma informed.”
It is hoped that a pilot will now go ahead to ensure the programme and model fits the New Zealand context, works to support caregivers and has value for them.
The new programme gives caregivers insights into the emotions, which underpin the negative behaviour, we see from our children.
“I think it is key for caregivers to recognise the shame children feel – when they’ve experienced trauma’” Sally said.
Sally and Rob witnessed a powerful connection develop between the members of the group and the ‘lightbulb’ moment that happened.
As the Care Support Manager said when the caregivers walked out of there, you could see the difference in their mana, in the way they walked out of the room. It was amazing.”
Caregivers who attended the course now have a new resolve because they understand children are not just acting out to irritate them, but rather because they are traumatised. And the caregivers now have the tools to build powerful bonds with the children in their care.
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