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The Secure Base

July 11, 2016 | phil

In 2015, Family Care announced its decision to redesign the delivery of all its services around a single model. Our chosen model was the Secure Base. In the following article, we introduce the Secure Base and our vision for caregiving at Family Care…

Secure Base

"All children need to feel secure in their relationships with the adults who look after them."

When children have not experienced the kind of sensitive upbringing that promotes security and resilience, children can often find it difficult to trust and they can struggle with managing their feelings and behaviour.

The Secure Base* is a model of ‘caregiving’ that is based on theories of attachment, child development and resilience, whilst also drawing on child placement research. Providing a secure base is at the heart of successful healing relationships and recovery from trauma.

The Secure Base Model is designed to support professionals involved in all aspects of caregiving practice, providing a valuable framework and a strength-based approach for making sense of children’s needs and behaviours and the approaches to caregiving that can support children to thrive and fulfil their potential. The model brings together five dimensions of caregiving. These five dimensions interact with each other to create a secure base for the child. The first four dimensions of caregiving – availability, sensitivity, acceptance, and co-operation – come from the work of the earliest attachment researchers, particularly Mary Ainsworth (1971, 1978, cited in Schofield and Beek, 2014). She found in her study of infants that these four caregiving dimensions were associated with secure attachment. The fifth dimension, family membership, focusing on a sense of belonging, has been added to the model because of its significance for all children but especially for children separated from their families of origin and who are developing new significant relationships with professionals involved in their everyday care.

In January 2016, Family Care welcomed Gillian Schofield (one of the founders of the approach/model) who delivered training to staff teams from our fostering service, children's homes and school, alongside our therapeutic team. We continue to have a professional working relationship with Gillian Schofield whom is available to offer consultation and support regarding the implementation of this model across our organisation. Children accessing Family Care's services are already benefiting from this focused and more consistent approach as our new way of working continues to embed throughout the organisation. Our staff and foster carers have benefited too. They feel stronger; more empowered to stick to agreed caregiving strategies and they are better informed and organised in their approach to caring for traumatised young people.

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If you would like to know more about the implementation of the Secure Base at Family Care, please contact Mary Silson or Kerry Robertson from our Therapeutic Team on 01772 647500 or enquiries@family-care.co.uk

*Schofield, G and Beek, M. (2014) The Secure Base Model: Promoting attachment and resilience in foster care and adoption. London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering

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