Examination of a foster parent training manual in light of attachment theory

Gisele A. Richardson (2000)

This study involved examination of the manual of the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP), a foster parent training program implemented in Massachusetts as well as other states. This investigation was concerned with whether foster parents are taught the information and skills deemed useful in handling foster children's problematic behavior and in assessing and responding appropriately to children with attachment and developmental problems or disorders resulting from trauma. This study aimed to clarify whether MAPP is grounded in psychological theory or, specifically, attachment theory. Findings and recommendations in relevant literature guided this investigation. Criteria used to evaluate the MAPP curriculum stemmed from literature in the areas of attachment development and behavior; disrupted attachment and attachment problems; assessment of attachment; child development; foster children (and trauma); foster parents; foster care and special foster care; and foster parent training. The content of the MAPP manual was analyzed using qualitative methods, with focus on its theoretical base, structure and organization, methods, goals, and curricula (core content). The results of this investigation seem to support a previous study's (Lee & Holland, 1991) findings suggesting that MAPP lacks sufficient theoretical groundwork and empirical support of its contents and method for a parent training program. This investigation suggests that there might be significant benefits to structuring surrogate parent training programs within the framework of psychological theory, such as the construct of attachment which involves the emotional bond between parent and child, or between two people. The current study may have implications for content necessary in foster parent training programs. Further research is needed to compare the success of foster parent training programs guided by different theories and principles.