Year of publication: 2011
Living psychology: The emotional warmth dimension of professional childcare
Children and young people in public care are arguably the most vulnerable group in our society and, despite considerable support and financial expenditure, the outcomes for these children have remained stubbornly poor. While the worthy intentions of government initiatives over recent years are not in question, it is clear that there is a need for a new theory-led, evidence-based model of professional care and support. This paper presents a psychological perspective which links early childhood experiences with restricted life outcomes. It argues that it is parental rejection (sometimes accompanied by abuse and neglect) which is a major mediating factor in the often-restricted life outcomes for many of these children. The emotional warmth approach to professional childcare enables a visiting applied psychologist to empower residential and foster carers to provide high quality parenting, sensitive support for post-trauma stress and a deeper understanding of the (often hidden) signature strengths of these children and young people. The inclusion of these three components in a support plan is likely to promote positive emotional, social and academic development of children in public care. The major role of the applied psychologist consultant in the emotional warmth model is discussed and appropriate outcome measures for this approach to childcare are considered.