Séverine Euillet, Researcher, Université Paris Nanterre, France
Within a developmental approach, this longitudinal research draws from attachment theory and contemporary work to analyse the evolution of the quality of attachment in children placed in foster homes. Initially, 36 French children aged an average of 52 months were presented with the Attachment Story Completion Task (Bretherton, Ridgeway and Cassidy, 1990). Six years later, 22 children from the initial group now aged an average of 121 months were asked to complete French versions of the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (Armsden and Greenberg, 1987, revised in 1989) and of the Adolescent Unresolved Attachment Questionnaire (West, Rose, Spreng & Adam, 2000). The results show that these children develop a calm emotional relationship with caregivers after six years of fostering, but still have feelings of fear and anger with regard to the attachment relationship with their father or their mother, which confirms that there are at least two types of attachment. Among the contextual and individual variables collected, two items are significant: the age of the child at the time he was placed in foster care and change of the foster family. It is clear that continuous care in the same foster family promotes emotional security and the capacity to develop new relationships based on communication with the caregiver. The pernicious effects of changing foster homes on the development of the child are once again confirmed (Eagle, 1994; Marcus, 1991; Stovall and Dozier, 1998), and these results should encourage those in the social work sector to do their best to avoid and prevent such interruptions in the life of the child under protection.
Key-words: Attachment, foster family, child, long-term, change of foster family