Secure Base Model

Centre for Research on Children and Families

The Secure Base model

A secure base is at the heart of any successful caregiving environment - whether within the birth family, in foster care, residential care or adoption.

A secure base is provided through a relationship with one or more caregivers who offer a reliable base from which to explore and a safe haven for reassurance when there are difficulties. Thus a secure base promotes security, confidence, competence and resilience.

The Secure Base model has been developed through a range of research and practice dissemination projects led by Emeritus Professor Gillian Schofield and Dr Mary Beek in the Centre for Research on Children and Families at the University of East Anglia, UK.

child-bookThe model was recommended in the Government White Paper, Care Matters (2007) as a basis for training foster carers and was subsequently incorporated in the Skills to Foster preparation programme, produced by the Fostering Network (2009, 2014). It has been implemented in a range of local authorities and independent agencies in England. It has also been the focus of practice development training in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Spain, Scotland, Sweden, France, Italy, New Zealand, Ukraine and Iraq. In countries as diverse as Norway, China, Thailand and Australia, the model has been implemented by agencies as a framework for foster care training and practice.


secure base logo

The Secure Base model is drawn from attachment theory, and adapted to include an additional element, that of family membership, for children who are separated from their birth families. The model proposes five dimensions of caregiving, each of which is associated with a corresponding developmental benefit for the child. The dimensions overlap and combine with each other to create a secure base for the child, as represented below:

The Secure base infographic


This Secure Base model provides a framework for building positive relationships and promoting security and resilience, not only in foster care, adoption and residential care, but also in schools, workplace teams and a range of diverse settings.