Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Cory Dennis/Rosemary McCaslin


A significant number of children remain in foster care for long periods of time. Among this vulnerable population there is a high rate of placement disruption. Multiple placement changes are more likely to have a negative effect on children in out‑of‑home care than those who remain in the same foster home until they can return to their parents, be adopted or leave foster care between 18 and 21 years of age. This study examined the effect of the foster parent’s attachment style on the parenting values for touch, praise, encouragement, hope and commitment regarding foster children. Adults with a secure attachment style have been shown to be more effective in interpersonal relationships and are more likely to weather the storm through a child whose behavior is affected by trauma. The study found that caregivers with a secure attachment style would use touch, praise, encouragement, have hope for the child’s future and be committed to the long term placement of the child or youth more often.

The study measured attachment styles of foster parents using the State Adult Attachment Measure (Gillath, Hart, Noftle & Stockdale, 2009); and an instrument developed by the researchers to measure parenting values. Foster parents also were invited to provide their contact information for participation in an interview. The qualitative interviews added depth to the study by helping shed light on how foster parents use touch, praise, encouragement, hope and commitment with foster children.