Solihull Approach Foster Carer Course

About This Program

Target Population: Foster carers (i.e., foster parents) of children from infants to age 18 years

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 18

Program Overview

The Solihull Approach Foster Carer Course is intended for foster carers who want to know more about their foster child’s development and about sensitive and effective caring. It aims to develop a framework for foster carers to think about carer/child relationships which can be developed into a lifelong skill. This in turn promotes understanding of their foster child’s behavior and aims to help develop effective strategies to manage the child’s behavior.

Program Goals

The goals of Solihull Approach Foster Carer Course are:

  • Develop understanding of children in care, their behaviour, their experiences, and developmental issues
  • Increase confidence in observing and understanding their foster child’s communication, relationships, and behaviour
  • Develop sensitive, reflective, and effective foster caring
  • Understand the importance of rupture and repair to enhance parenting skills and promote resilience in foster children
  • Promote understanding of the impact of early experience on how the foster child relates
  • Develop a framework of thinking and promote the effective use of behavior management

Essential Components

The essential components of Solihull Approach Foster Carer Course include:

  • Based on a theoretical parenting model: the Solihull Approach
  • Group course for up to 12 foster carers
  • 12 sessions covering the following topics:
    • Session 1: Introduction to the Solihull Approach Foster Carer Course
    • Session 2: Brain Development
    • Session 3: Containment
    • Session 4: Reciprocity
    • Session 5: Introduction to attachment
    • Session 6: Understanding your child’s behavior
    • Session 7: Different styles of parenting
    • Session 8: Spending time together
    • Session 9: Rhythm of interaction and sleep
    • Session 10: Self-regulation and anger
    • Session 11: Communication and attunement/Rupture and repair
    • Session 12: Celebration
  • 2.5-hour long sessions
  • Integrates psychoanalytic theory with child development research and learning theory
  • Flexible delivery setting
  • Emphasizes the importance of relationships

Program Delivery

Parent/Caregiver Services

Solihull Approach Foster Carer Course directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Foster carer of foster children with hyperactivity, behavior problems, anger, disrupted sleep patterns, and/or attentional behavior difficulties

Recommended Intensity:

Weekly sessions for 2½ hours

Recommended Duration:

12 sessions

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Community Agency
  • Foster/Kinship Care
  • Outpatient Clinic
  • School


Solihull Approach Foster Carer Course includes a homework component:

There are usually observational exercises or assignments to practice what was learned in session.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

2 facilitators and comfortable room big enough for 12 foster carers, laptop with PowerPoint capabilities, projector, flipcharts, markers

Education and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

There are no minimum education requirements. Both facilitators need to be practitioners who have experience of working with foster carers.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

Onsite for groups of up to 12 facilitators or via Skype

Number of days/hours:

2 days

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program has been reviewed and it was determined that this program lacks the type of published, peer-reviewed research that meets the CEBC criteria for a scientific rating of 1 - 5. Therefore, the program has been given the classification of "NR - Not able to be Rated." It was reviewed because it was identified by the topic expert as a program being used in the field, or it is being marketed and/or used in California with children receiving services from child welfare or related systems and their parents/caregivers. Some programs that are not rated may have published, peer-reviewed research that does not meet the above stated criteria or may have eligible studies that have not yet been published in the peer-reviewed literature. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale.

Brown, S. (2014). Clinical update: A small service evaluation of a Solihull Approach Foster Carer Training Group pilot study. Practice: Social Work in Action, 26(1), 37-52. doi:10.1080/09503153.2013.860094

Type of Study: One-group pretest-posttest
Number of Participants: 16


  • Age — 16-18 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were individuals involved in the foster care system.

Location/Institution: Norfolk County Council foster carers

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This service evaluation assessed the effectiveness of a Solihull Approach pilot group for foster carers [now called Solihull Approach Foster Carer Course] on a variety of parental and child measures. Measures utilized include the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the Parental Stress Index–Short Form (PSI-SF), and the Carer Questionnaire. Results indicate that there was a significant decrease in the carer’s ratings of their child’s hyperactivity and attentional disorders and a trend towards a decrease in the behavioural difficulties of their child, as rated by the carer. In addition, no significant change was made to the relationship between the child and foster carer. When reviewing the results, the majority of participants show an increase in their ratings of confidence in managing the child’s difficulties and the extent to which they understand their child’s difficulties. It appears that many of the participants felt confident in the existing relationship quality they had, which may result from the training they experience in order to become a foster parent or previous experiences with children who may have complex needs. Limitations include lack of a comparison group, small sample size, limited demographic information on the youth, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Madigan, S., Paton, K., & Mackett, N. (2017). The Springfield Project service: Evaluation of a Solihull Approach course for foster carers. Adoption and Fostering, 41(3), 254-267. doi:10.1177/0308575917719373

Type of Study: One-group pretest-posttest
Number of Participants: 83 for interviews and 34 for CBCL scores


  • Age — Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were foster caregivers.

Location/Institution: Springfield Project in Fife, Scotland

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The aim was to present the results of an evaluation of the outcomes from the introduction of the Solihull Approach Course for Foster Carers: Understanding your Foster Child’s Behaviour [now called Solihull Approach Foster Carer Course]. Measures utilized include the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Results indicate that increased understanding; being part of the group; staying calm and thinking before they act; feeling more confident; and looking after themselves and seeking containment. Limitations include the lack of a control group, insufficient power to detect effects, small sample size, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Additional References

Douglas, H. (2007). Containment and reciprocity: Integrating psychoanalytic theory and child development research for work with children. London: Routledge.

Douglas, H., & Rheeston, M. (2009). The Solihull Approach: An integrative model across agencies. In J. Barlow & P. O. Svanberg (Eds.), Keeping the baby in mind: Infant mental health in practice (pp. 29-38). London: Routledge.

Williams, L., & Newell, R. (2012). The use of the Solihull Approach with children with complex neurodevelopmental difficulties and sleep problems: A case study. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(2), 159-166. doi:10.1111/j.1468-3156.2012.00754.x

Contact Information

Dr. Hazel Douglas, BSc, MPsychol, MBA, MA, DPsych
Agency/Affiliation: Solihull Approach team
Phone: (+44) 0121 296 4448

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2018

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2018

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2018