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St Christopher's approach

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Improving the outcomes for young people.

We are committed to developing innovative practice that continually improves outcomes for vulnerable children and young people.

Working in partnership with CATS

Using learning from attachment theory, education and behaviour management, we work in partnership with academics from the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS) at Middlesex University to develop our approach. This partnership has allowed us to enhance and standardise our assessment procedures to provide more reliable and holistic assessments for young people in our care.

Our package of assessment tools helps us to:

  • Identify the support needs of children and young people in residential care, foster care and leaving care services
  • Target our support
  • Track the progress our young people have achieved.

By focusing on attachment and related isues during our assessments, we are able to gauge the levels of attachment vulnerability, stress and psychological disorder. This helps us to detect and treat the most common emotional and behavioural problems among adolescents.

Attachment Style Interviews (ASI)

ASI is used with children coming into our long term care to provide a baseline assessment of young people. It provides an assessment of a young person's relationship with their parents, siblings and up to three close others, which determines how the child or young person forms and maintains relationships and in turn forms the basis of the level of security or insecurity of attachment style. The type of predominant insecure style is then determined, whether:

  • 'Anxious' (enmeshed or fearful)
  • 'Avoidant' (angry-dismissive or withdrawn)
  • 'Dual'/'disorganised' (based on a mixed style).

Secure individuals have good support in relationships and no negative attitudes around mistrust, fear or anger in relationships.  This is the most adaptive and positive style.

Anxious attachment styles involve a high need for company, fear of separation or fear of rejection.

Avoidant styles involve mistrust, constraints on closeness, high self-reliance and anger.

Involving young people

Asking children and young people for their views and opinions about their relationships, thoughts and feelings is essential.  Our assessments not only involve carers and sometimes teachers, but also the children and young people themselves.

To support this work, we commissioned a version of the ASI suitable for children that uses images of animals - such as the angry bear, fearful deer or clinging monkey - to help the child identify how much they are like each style.

The Q Pack Assessment

Our interview assessments are important in establishing need, but we also use self-report questionnaires to provide an ongoing measure of the young person's state of well being.

The Q Pack Assessment collates three standardized self-report assessments reflecting life events, attachment style and symptoms of psychological disorder. The assessments are completed by care staff, teachers and the young people themselves and comprise:

  • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
  • Vulnerable Attachment Style Questionnaire
  • Recent Life Events Questionnaire

The Q Pack Assessment is administered by St Christopher's care staff when young people first arrive in residential care and on a 3-6 month monitoring basis. This enables us to:

  • Regularly assess, analyse and monitor the effectiveness of the care and support provided
  • Ensure that care planning is based on regularly updated information
  • Help identify when referrals need to be made to other more specialised services, such as CAMHS.

It also helps local authority commissioner's to quantify the outcomes being achieved and to help monitor the quality of the service.

Full details can be found in the Attachment Assessment Tools Research Report in the Documents section on this page.

For more information about our approach to residential childcare, please contact us today.