Attachment styles of children in foster care. A phenomenological analysis

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McGarrity, Liz
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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In September 2017 6,230 children were in care in Ireland. A Staggering 92% of those were in foster care. The Children First National Guidance for Protection and Welfare of Children launched in 2017, provide all citizens and organisations with information on legislative and non-legislative obligations, now in force for professionals and organisations engaged in ensuring the safety and welfare of children in the State. The National Standards for Foster Care ensure that foster care placements are adequately supported and that children in foster care receive the best possible care. The objective of this study is to look at attachment styles of children in foster care and how the foster carer contributes to the reparation of insecure attachment of children in foster care. The study takes a qualitative approach via interpretative phenomenological analysis of the lived experiences of the foster carer. Three foster carers shared their experiences of fostering for this study. Analysis of these experiences enabled themes to emerge which were consistent across the foster carers’ experiences. The themes of language, identity and the impact of attachment highlights how foster carers in this study respond to the impact of the fostering system on the foster children in their care and on themselves and their families. The findings of this study highlight the need for further exploration of attachment styles in fostering. While the foster carers’ experiences were examined in-depth it does not include the foster child’s experiences due to the ethical implications of doing so. Consideration for further research include relationships of foster children with their siblings in care, impact of fostering on the children of foster carers and how the foster care system contributes to the maintenance of insecure attachment styles in foster children.