Attachment Styles in Children Living in Alternative Care: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Manuela Garcia Quiroga, Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: A large number of children are currently living in Alternative Care. The relationship they establish with their temporary caregivers can play a significant role in their development. However, little has been published regarding attachment with temporary Caregivers. Objective: The aim of this review is to analyse the existing published studies regarding attachment styles in children living in alternative care (Children’s Homes and Foster Care). The review analyses rates of attachment styles and associated factors (including characteristics of settings, children and caregivers) in both settings. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted searching electronic databases for peer reviewed publications in different languages. Studies considering attachment in children living in Children’s Homes or Foster families at the time of the study were included. Results: Overall, 18 articles reporting 13 studies met the inclusion criteria. The results are presented in terms of characteristics of the studies, rates of attachment in different settings and possible mediating factors. Implications for practice and research are discussed. Conclusions: Attachment styles in children living in alternative care differ from those observed in children living with biological or adoptive families, however several factors can mediate this outcome (including characteristics of settings, children and caregivers). Most research has been conducted in Europe and USA. Therefore, further research is needed in less developed countries in order to guide local policies for better care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-653
Number of pages29
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative Care
  • Attachment
  • Caregivers
  • Children’s Homes
  • Foster care
  • Institution


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