Journal article

Excluding very severe child abuse cases, biological parents are usually encouraged to maintain contact with their children in care. Parent-child contact is often considered important because it can maintain the child's psychological identity and well-being. It can also maintain parent-child attachment and in some cases facilitate reunification. Improving parenting skills is viewed as an important method by which contact between children and their biological parents can be enhanced. However, mainstream parenting groups are often unsuitable for parents whose children are in care for a number of reasons. There is stigma involved with having children in care, such parents have very complex lives and there are reduced opportunities to practise skills learnt with their children. Groups designed specifically for parents whose children are in care appear to be a promising approach to improving the quality of contact between these parents and their children. This paper will review group-based approaches to working with biological parents whose pre-school-aged children have been placed in care. The paper will also report the findings of a research project designed to identify key facilitators and barriers to parental involvement in a group-based programme which includes contact between parents and their children who have been placed in care.

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