Attachment Assessments offer an understanding of risk and resilience in family relationships independent of the known or disputed history of the case. As a result, they offer a way forward in cases where the history is disputed, or the perpetrator is not known.
Common assessment approaches with parents with learning difficulties focus on task completion, and neglect the impact of trauma on parenting. As a result they have little to say about the parents’ ability to generalise from this to stressful moments in day-to-day life and parenting. Research suggests that more commonly it is trauma rather than the learning difficulty, that creates risk in parenting. Assessment procedures are needed that reflect this.
Too often fostering and adoption is seen as an easy route to fixing a damaged child, with insufficient attention paid to the nature of the fostering / adoptive relationship itself. Attention needs to be paid to the impact of the child on the foster parents / adopters as well as the pattern of relationships of the carers themselves. Assessment tools are needed that shed light on what is going on between the carers and the child to understand struggling foster or adoptive parent-child relationships, and of the impact of the carers’ own experiences on their relationships in the assessment of carers themselves.
Where parents are unable to see their child’s separate experience, they may draw their child into an understanding of their relationships that is (or feels) protective to them, but is harmful to the child. Attachment assessments render visible the child’s experience of parental separation, and enable assessment as to the capacity of each parent to help the child manage the changes to their relationship.