Placement in Foster Care Enhances Quality of Attachment Among Young Institutionalized Children


  • The Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Early Experience and Brain Development (Charles A. Nelson, network chair). We thank our dedicated BEIP research staff as well as Hermi R. Woodward and Sebastian F. Koga. We are very grateful to the children and caregivers who have participated in the BEIP.

concerning this article should be addressed to Anna T. Smyke, Department of Psychiatry/Neurology, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, 1440 Canal Street – TB-52, New Orleans, LA 70112. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined classifications of attachment in 42-month-old Romanian children (N = 169). Institutionalized since birth, children were assessed comprehensively, randomly assigned to care as usual (CAU) or to foster care, and compared to family-reared children. Attachment classifications for children in foster care were markedly different from those in the CAU. Importantly, children placed in foster care before 24 months were more likely to have secure attachments and if placed earlier were less likely to have disorganized or insecure-other attachments. Cognitive status predicted greater likelihood of organized attachment in the CAU and greater likelihood of secure attachment in the foster care and never-institutionalized groups. Foster care is an important intervention to reduce the adverse effects following early deprivation.