Table 2

 A framework for focusing on attachment in child protection decisions

Child protection assessment “How can emotional safety best be protected?”What are the parents’ childhood experiences likely to mean for parenting?
What are the current risk factors for attachment? (parents, child, social, etc)
What does observed attachment behaviour suggest about home experiences?
With whom/what are the child’s important relationships?
What factors are likely to have contributed to abuse? Which are remediable?
What is the “attachment context” of abuse—and what may this mean for the child’s response to removal? (e.g. “favoured child”, scapegoat, rejected)
What are the risks and benefits of foster care?
Do the benefits of unprepared emergency placement justify the risks?
How can the risks of emergency placement be reduced?
 Is it possible to engage the birth family in supporting a move?
 Is there another familiar adult who could support a move?
 Does he have a comforter/toy/pet which could go with him?
How can family relationships be protected? (e.g. independent parental support)
Assessing long term placement needs “Where is adequate long term attachment most likely to be achieved?”Is it likely that his attachment needs can be met within the family home?
What factors are contributing to attachment difficulties? (factors relating to parents, child, opportunity, support, understanding of attachment, etc)
Which of these may be changed? Within what timescale?
Is there a reasonable likelihood of adequate overall change sufficiently soon, bearing in mind the natural history of attachment problems?
Is it likely that adequate attachment can be established away from home?
What measures would be needed to make this possible?
Which relationships will it be in the child’s best interest to protect? How?
What does the nature of his sibling relationships mean for how long term attachment may best be achieved? Do the advantages of placing the siblings together outweigh the risks or vice versa?
What are the implications of his attachment pattern for choice of family?
Planning moves to foster care, adoption, or back home “How can the likelihood of achieving adequate attachment be maximised?”How (judging from past experiences) is the child likely to view a move?
What are his preconceptions of adults/closeness?
How (judging from past patterns) is he likely to behave?
What are the implications for:
 How adopters will feel
 Family dynamics
 Preparation and support needed for the child and family
 Specialist/CAMHS services needed
How can the birth family/foster carers be helped to support the move?