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Parent-child Contact: Association Between Foster Parent’s Sensitivity and Children’s Reactions to Contact

Lisa Auger, Karine Poitras, George M. Tarabulsy

Research Framework: In Quebec, the Youth Protection Act encourages contact between children and their biological parents following placement in foster care. However, there is no empirical consensus about the impact of these contacts on foster children. 

Objectives: Our study aims to examine the association between the foster parent’s sensitivity and the children’s reactions to contact considering three potentially confounding variables: security of attachment, age at first placement, and frequency of contact.

Methodology: With a quantitative approach, our sample includes 51 foster children aged between 12 and 45 months. Individual interview with the biological parent informed about contact arrangements. Children’s reactions following contact was reported by foster parents. Parental sensitivity and security of attachment were observed through a home visit with the foster parents. 

Results: Most children have at least one negative reaction as a result of contact. These reactions are significantly associated to foster parent’s sensitivity.

Conclusions: Our study suggests the foster parent’s sensitivity parent as a key factor in facilitating better transitions as a result of contacts.

Contribution: This study contributes to the reflection on parent-child contacts and their impacts on foster children.