The following links will take you to published research related to reflective fostering.

PhD Research

In addition to the Reflective Fostering Study, other research is being carried out by PhD students, exploring topics related to reflective fostering in more depth.

Eva A Sprecher is a PhD student at UCL and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Her research looks at the relationships between foster carers and the children they care for. Eva has explored the experiences foster carers and care-experienced young people have of fostering relationships and the special role of trust in those relationships. One of Eva’s PhD studies used data from the pilot study of the Reflective Fostering Study looking at how foster carer’s ability to think about their own feelings and thoughts and those of the children in their care (mentalizing) related to how they rated the quality of their fostering relationships. Another study is using data from the Relationship Stories part of the Reflective Fostering Study to understand how foster carer mentalizing impacts on the interactions between foster carers and children. To read more about Eva’s studies you can read her two published papers on understanding fostering relationships ( and trust in fostering relationships (

Asa Kerr-Davis is a PhD student at UCL, supervised by Saul Hillman and Nick Midgley. His PhD project focuses on the meaning, experience, and assessment of ‘epistemic trust’ in foster care relationships. ‘Epistemic trust’ refers to the ability humans have to learn about ourselves and the world by trusting information from other people. The theory suggests that children who have had disrupted attachment relationships – including those living in foster care – may find it particularly challenging to develop epistemic trust. This could make it more difficult for children to build social relationships and to build a stable sense of who they are.

As part of his project, Asa will use data from a sub-study within the Reflective Fostering Study called Relationship Stories. This sub-study includes a home visit where researchers interview foster carers and observe the child and carer completing a task together. It aims to explore how the ideas within the Reflective Fostering Programme are put into practice within the caregiver-child relationship. Asa is using the data from the interaction task to explore what epistemic trust looks like in practice: which words and actions indicate that a child is open to learning from their carer?



The following links will take you to open access research papers:

The Reflective Fostering Programme: background and development of a new approach 

Supporting foster carers to meet the needs of looked after children: A feasibility and pilot evaluation of the Reflective Fostering Programme. Developmental Child Welfare

Feasibility evaluation of the Reflective Fostering Programme (RFP) (NSPCC)

The reflective fostering programme: evaluating the intervention co-delivered by social work professionals and foster carers 

A qualitative analysis of goals set by foster carers seeking support for their child’s emotional wellbeing

The Reflective Fostering Programme—improving the wellbeing of children in care through a group intervention for foster carers: a randomised controlled trial 




Other useful resources

Reflective Fostering Programme: An introduction

Reflective Parenting: A guide to understanding what's going on in your child's mind

Reflective Fostering Kent Summary

Reflective Fostering Study Summary

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