“Most children are entering foster care in the early years of life when brain growth and development are most active…Paramount in the lives of these children is their need for continuity with their primary attachment figures and a sense of permanence that is enhanced when placement is stable.  There are critical periods of interaction among physical, psychological , social, and environmental factors.  Basic stimulation techniques and stable, predictable nurturance are necessary during these periods…

To develop into a psychologically healthy human being, a child must have a relationship with an adult who is nurturing, protective, and fosters trust and security…A child develops attachments and recognizes as parents adults who provide…’day-to-day attention to his needs for physical care, nourishment, comfort, affection, and stimulation’.  

Interruptions in the continuity of a child’s caregiver are often detrimental…Any intervention that separates a child from the primary caregiver who provides psychological support should be cautiously considered and treated as a matter of urgency and profound importance.

Placement with a relative has psychological advantages for a child in terms of knowing his or her biologic roots and family identity.  It may offer a better chance for stability and continuity of caregiving.  However, little is known about the outcomes of kinship placement, and it should not be assumed to offer a superior home environment.

Generally, assignment of custody should reinforce a child’s perception of belonging and should not disrupt established psychological ties except when safety or emotional well-being are in jeopardy.

Developmental Issues for Young Children in Foster Care. Committee on Early Childhood Adoption and Dependent Care Pediatrics 2000:106;1145

For the complete version of the article: www.pediatrics.aappublications.org