The Secure Base Model
At Lorimer Fostering, our staff and Foster Carers work to create successful, nurturing environments for our children and young people; to do this, we work to the principles of The Secure Base Model.
Where did The Secure Base Model come from?
The model was developed by Professor Gillian Schofield and Dr Mary Beek in the Centre for Research on Children and Families at the University of East Anglia, and recommended for use in the Government White Paper ‘Care Matters: Time for Change’ in 2007.
Since this time, The Secure Base Model has been adopted by Local Authorities as well as charitable and private organisations across the UK and in many countries across the world where it informs practice framework and training.
What underpins The Secure Base Model?
In a nutshell, The Secure Base Model asserts that a successful caregiving environment is one in which a child has, quite literally, a Secure Base.
This Secure Base is provided through their relationships with one or more caregivers, within which the young person feels safe to explore their identity and increase their self-esteem, resilience and security.
The principle ideas behind the Model are based on the interactions that occur between children and young people and their care givers, and are rooted in knowledge of Attachment Theory.
However, the key difference between Attachment Theory and the Secure Base Model is the addition of Family Membership, making this specific to children and young people who are cared for outside of their birth family. Family Membership is one of the 5 dimensions of caregiving.
The 5 Dimensions of Caregiving
Helping the child to TRUST. This means not only being physically available for the child, but also being emotionally available in a way that engenders a sense of commitment and stickability from the caregivers to the child. This is vital to creating a secure relationship with a child, and means being aware of the signals the child displays and adapting the things you say and do which might then change their perception of themselves and others around them.
Helping the child to MANAGE THEIR FEELINGS. Sensitivity to a child’s feelings is a special quality, and one which Foster Carers need to bring to their role. Foster Carers need to identify with and recognise the child’s perspective and be attuned to their emotional needs. We need to be always putting ourselves in the child’s shoes.
Building the child’s SELF-ESTEEM. Being accepted is an unequivocal, basic need of all children and young people. This means being accepted for all the positives they have as well as the challenges that they face. If a child does not feel accepted by their caregivers, it could be argued that no other part of this model will be successful, making this a critical part of the Foster Care role.
Helping the child to feel EFFECTIVE. This part of the Model centres on a child’s need to explore their independence and gain skills for the future. It is important that children and young people have a good sense of their own validity, through both thoughts and behaviour; Foster Carers need to recognise this and encourage them to ‘make their mark’ on the world.
Helping the child to BELONG. This section means working towards a sense of belonging for a child within a caregiving setting, and trusting their place in it. It is important that a child is not only introduced and made comfortable within the routines and expectations of the home environment, but also that they have their own place within it. This can be as simple as them having their own specified place at the dinner table, or could include the use of special names or references which confirm to the child that they are part of the household.
The above diagram sets out how the different areas of the Model interact and how they overlap with each other.
How is this useful to our Foster Carers?
By using this Model in our daily practice, we all have a framework within which we can use as a point of reference to help make real, consistent changes to our young people.
The Model helps our Foster Carers to work therapeutically, nurturing a child’s social, emotional, psychological and intellectual development.
A child being cared for in an environment where The Secure Base is used as an underpinning framework are more likely to feel secure, settled and better equipped to deal with life.
The aim is for the child to eventually see the consistent care given to them as the norm, and this strengthens their ability to form and maintain healthy relationships outside of the home.
Support for Foster Carers to use The Secure Base Model
At Lorimer Fostering, we believe in learning throughout our careers, be that as social work staff, support staff or foster carers. Our Supervising Social Workers are able to advise and guide both new and existing carers in how best to use the model for the child placed with them.
If this has piqued your interest, and you’d like to find out more, speak to your Supervising Social Worker.
Alternatively, if you are looking to join a proactive and nurturing Fostering Agency, speak to Rachael. You can call or WhatsApp on 07938 575 738 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your details using the form below and we will call you back. We recruit Foster Carers from all across the North West, and we would love to hear from you!