A common hurdle to supporting the kind of contact that meets the child’s attachment needs is that, when the child is placed away from home birth parents are struggling, Whether it be with addiction, mental health issues, relationship issues, inadequate parenting knowledge, or a combination of factors, the message that they are a risk to their children, thus necessitating placement away from them, rarely results in birth parents turning their life around, in the short term at-least. Rather, the removal is received as further confirmation of their own perceived worthlessness, which is a common factor maintaining the difficulties child protection authorities are concerned about. Too often, birth parents disengage from working with child protection authorities, and their own children. I believe that this is, in part, a consequence of the messaging that occurs between child protection authorities and birth parents, which results in them experiencing overwhelming shame. What is needed at the time of removal is:
- messaging to birth parents about the vital role they play in the lives of their children, though their children may not be in their care for a period of time, and
- the maintenance of a working alliance with birth parents intended to regulate their shame and keep them engaged in decision-making regarding their children, address the difficulties that led to their children being removed from their care, and keep them in regular contact with their children.
In short, birth parents need to understand the very matters referred to earlier about the important role they play in their child’s attachment security and associated development, wellbeing, and approach to life and relationships.
What would you have birth parents know about the enduring contribution they make to the life of the child or young person you work with or care for?
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