Connecting Kin Research Project: Evaluation of a Trauma- and Attachment-Based Support Program for Kinship Parents

Motivation for the project

Many children who are removed from their birth parents and enter out-of-home-care have experienced significant trauma. To promote their resilience it’s vital that these children experience safe, secure and nurturing relationships when they’re placed with alternative caregivers. Placements with kinship parents (eg, grandparents, uncles/aunts) are becoming increasingly prevalent in Australia (Boetto, 2010) and may be more stable and enduring than those in foster care (eg, Rock et al., 2015). Although kinship parents have a strong desire to preserve family ties and provide for their children in care, many feel unprepared and unsupported in navigating the complex challenges in this caregiving role. Escalating difficulties in the relationships between kinship parents and their children may threaten the security of these placements and undermine the mental health of children. In this light, it’s critical that kinship parents receive evidence-based support to strengthen their relationship with their child and promote their child’s wellbeing.

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Project design

This randomised controlled trial aims to evaluate the implementation and preliminary effectiveness of a modified version of the Connect program (see Moretti, Pasalich, & O’Donnell [2018], Handbook of Attachment-Based Interventions) for kinship parents. The program has been tailored to promote the wellbeing and resilience of children in out-of-home-care who have histories of trauma and disrupted attachment relationships. Practitioners in the community will be trained in and deliver the Connect for Kinship Parents Program through their usual service setting.   

Intended outcomes

We envisage that the project will: 1) generate scientific evidence for the effectiveness of this tailored program; 2) potentially improve the wellbeing of kinship families; and 3) promote the delivery of evidence-based support services for kinship parents in “real world” community settings.

Further information