The starting point of the ‘emotional warmth’ model of professional childcare is the importance of the relationship between each individual young person and their carer. A new priority becomes the empowering of residential and foster carers with the knowledge and skills to understand and respond appropriately to the emotional, behavioural and attainment difficulties that are exhibited by the children in their care. This is achieved with a two pronged approach. First, carers have immediate access to the knowledge base of psychology through regular child focused consultations with a qualified and experienced consultant psychologist. Second, in support of the on the-spot learning which takes place in the consultation sessions, the continuing professional development of the caregivers is then supported by a programme of training in the theory underpinning the ‘emotional warmth’ model. This programme (which can lead to a formal qualification) covers attachment theory, authoritative parenting, adaptive emotional development, the effective employment of young people’s signature strengths, involving young people in decision making and the assessment of both child and carer’s progress and development.
There are three important components:
The Pillars of Parenting. A procedure which can enable carers to meet the parenting needs of these children and young people through the eight Pillars of Parenting and the accompanying staff support activities which underpin each pillar.
Adaptive emotional development. A system which empowers carers to support children and young people in their journey through post-trauma stress using the three phases of the Cairns (2002)explanation of trauma and loss and the carer activities which accompany each phase from stabilisation, through integration and finally towards adaptation.
Signature strengths. A strategy for teaching carers how to identify children’s signature (or character) strengths and helping children and young people to utilise these effectively in their everyday life.