Caregiver sensitivity is a crucial element in the development of secure attachment in foster children. An ongoing study published in BMC Psychology aims to enhance sensitive foster parenting in the Netherlands using Video-feedback Intervention to promote Positive Parenting and Sensitive Discipline in Foster Care (VIPP-FC).
“Foster children are vulnerable for developing behavioral and emotional problems, which can contribute to the development of insecure attachment bonds with their foster parents and placement breakdown,” the researchers wrote. The current study aims to test the effectiveness of VIPP-FC in increasing caregiver sensitivity and by extension increasing oxytocin levels during parent-child interaction, which facilitate better stress regulation, a more secure attachment relationship between parent and child, and reduction of behavior issues.
The randomized controlled trial includes 60 parent-child dyads sorted into 2 groups: an intervention group receiving 6 home visits and a control group receiving 6 “dummy” telephone calls in which no parenting advice is given. The average age of the children is 3.63 (standard deviation [SD], 1.35; range, 1 to 6) at pretest; 27 (45.0%) are boys and 73.3% were placed in non-kinship homes. All foster parents participating in the study are the primary caregivers; 50 (83.3%) are foster mothers. Mean caregiver age is 45.43 (SD, 7.42; range, 31 to 61) and caregivers have on average 1.74 (SD, 0.83; range: 1 to 4) foster children and 1.87 (SD, 1.39; range, 0 to 5) biological children.
The first 4 sessions of interventional video training are biweekly, with approximately 3 weeks between sessions 4 and 5 and sessions 5 and 6. During each visit, the parent and child will be filmed during daily interactions. After the filming, the intervener gives personal feedback to the parent and child, focusing on positive interactions and sensitive discipline. The interveners are either foster care professionals working at one of the foster care organizations participating in the study, or are one of the project researchers.
The primary limitations of the study concern its expediency. Due to the legal standing of foster children, informed consent of both foster parents and biological parents was often needed, delaying testing. In addition, the study requires 6 to 7 months to complete per family, during which time circumstances can change, affecting the stress levels in foster child and parent.
If VIPP-FC is shown to be effective, it will be made available for wide-scale implementation throughout The Netherlands.
Schoemaker NK, Jagersma G, Stoltenborgh M, et al. The effectiveness of Video-feedback