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 Gillian Schofield and Mary Beek in the Centre for Research on Children and Families at the University of East Anglia.

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:

 Mother, father and child

The model provides a framework which can be of help with:

  • The assessment of prospective foster carers and adopters.
  • Assessing the capacities of caregivers (birth parents, residential workers, foster, carers and adopters) to provide a secure base for children in their care.
  • Supporting caregivers to provide a secure base.