Florence Koenderink (Independent consultant /Family-Based Solutions)

Topic: Making the move from institutions to families sustainable

Thematic area: New Models and Methods in Social Work

Language: English 


Growing up in an institution has a big impact on children’s physical, psychological, and brain development, which has consequences for the way they react and behave. When they are moved from institutions to families (whether it is their own family, foster family, adoptive family etc.) the challenging behaviour and stress responses of the child can be difficult to deal with. When families are not prepared and supported to deal with this, the chances are high that they will feel they are unable to cope and may be unwilling to continue caring for the child.
To avoid breakdown of placement it is important for social workers to be able to recognise the effects of institutionalisation when they assess a child, to take this into account in the care plan, and to effectively prepare and support the family. The workshop will provide a brief insight into the background of the challenges and some guidance on how to support the child to catch up development. It will be based on the book ‘Understanding the Trauma of Institutionalised Children. A training manual for case workers’, which will appear in early 2023.
The approach will be interactive, encouraging social workers to recall and share examples of the issues put forward and to collectively discuss how to handle the challenges encountered. In between the introduction and the conclusion the workshop will consist of five blocks, each starting with about five minutes of introducing issues around 1) brain development, 2) stress response, 3) attachment, 4) physical contact and attention, and 5) isolation from the community, followed by about 10 minutes of discussion and/or questions and answers.