Attachment in family foster care: Literature review of associated characteristics

Delphine West, Johan Vanderfaeillie, Lisa Van Hove, Laura Gypen, Frank Van Holen - Developmental Child Welfare


Foster children often had negative experiences in the past, which can contribute to attachment problems. In their meta-analysis, van den Dries et al. found that foster children were more often disorganized attached when compared to the general population. It is to be expected that the quality of attachment between the foster children and their foster parents is related to various factors. However, research into which factors are associated with the development of secure attachment is scarce. Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses method, a total of 13 articles were included in this review. This review provides an overview of the associated characteristics with the quality of attachment between foster carers and foster children. In the articles included in this review, the foster carers’ characteristics were often described as more important than characteristics of the foster child and placement when it comes to developing a secure attachment. The most consensus, although not unanimous, existed on the finding that a positive, sensitive parenting style of foster parents was positively related to a secure attachment between the foster children and their foster carers.