The power and critical nature of the earliest relationships between infants/toddlers and their caregivers is well documented. It is now common knowledge that access to predictable and responsive caregiving in the first years of life maximizes long-term developmental outcomes for infants. Ideally, responsive care-giving occurs within the context of biological parents. In some cases, due to challenges faced within the biological family, this is not possible. The result is often out of home placement. Hence the complex, sometimes fragmented journey in the child welfare system begins. Optimally, reunification of infant/toddler and biological caregiver is the intent. The child welfare system faces increasing demands with inadequate funding. Hence, there is limited availability of comprehensive and coherent supports that are necessary to meet the needs of families working towards reunification. In response to this seemingly unresolvable dilemma, several communities (both within our state and across the country) have come together in attempt to resolve the issue.
This session will use the lens of attachment theory to address the critical importance of systemic response to parent/child separation. Further, it will offer examples of community-based responses harnessing the capacity of the parent/child relationship while holding the well-being of the infant/toddler as a central ingredient to the solution.
Participants in this session will:
- Describe central ingredients of optimal early caregiver child relationships.
- Describe the impact of the absence of central ingredients of optimal early caregiver child relationships.
- Describe current community-based approaches toward harnessing the capacity of the power of early relationships.
- Apply session information as they engage in brainstorming activities focused on local resources compatible with supporting the capacity of the parent child relationship while holding the well-being of the infant as central to the solution.