Could evaluation of babies’ relational withdrawal be a key to understand the effect of parental visitation for babies placed out of home?

Alexandra Deprez, Researcher, LPPS- PARIS 5, France

Jacqueline Wendland, Researcher, LPPS- PARIS 5, France

The question of parental visitation with children removed from parental care has gained interest in recent literature. However, considerable controversy and ambiguity remains with regards to the impact of such contact on children’s wellbeing.

Importantly, the lack of appropriate measurements of young children’s reactions precludes a nuanced evaluation of such effects. The aim of this presentation is to propose a new protocol of assessment using the clinical concept of babies’ relational withdrawal and the use of the ADBB scale to understand babies’ experience of contact with parents when they have been removed from home.  Babies’ relational withdrawal has been assessed on video recording samples at five time points in interaction with an adult (parent/nurse): before, during, on return, two hours post, and 24 h post-visit.   Simultaneously, cortisol levels were measured for each video observation and for baseline (morning- evening). To complete the protocol, babies’ behaviours were assessed by the nurse’s prior and post visit night and day. Parental sensitivity, dyadic synchrony, babies’ age, age of placement, length of placement, visit frequency have been taken into account.

We will present exploratory results showing three different kinds of babies ‘reactions and discuss the possible clinical implications for decision-making around parental contact with the support of video sample.


Key words : relational withdrawal, parental visitation, babies, foster care

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