Lorraine Easterbrook

Does the SACCS Assessment Process contribute to the ‘Recovery’ of Traumatised Children in the area of Attachment?



Submitted in partial fulfilment for an 
MA in Therapeutic Child Care,
Department of Community Studies




This paper explores an assessment process that is in existence in an independent childcare company that looks after traumatised children. In particular it considers how well it works as a tool to assist carers to think about and understand what relevance ‘Attachment Theory’ (Bowlby 1969) has to caring for children who have been scarred by their earliest relationships. It goes on to explore whether a good assessment leads to a good plan for thoughtful intervention in a child’s day to day care, so that healthier patterns of relating to others may be possible.

The literature in the area of assessment is explored and a sample of existing assessments critiqued. Attachment Theory is examined for what it can offer to workers who live with and care for our most vulnerable children. With the use of a small-scale survey questioning staff who work with the assessment process, and my participant-observation in three assessments, I have considered what we can learn not only about the assessment under scrutiny but about the value of assessment in general, particularly in the field of Attachment.


I would like to thank Linnet McMahon, Deborah Best, Paul Cain and Teresa Howard for their unfailing care and support during the last two years, it has been amazing. Also my fellow students Debbie, Derek, Di, Gary, Jenny, John, Joycelyn, Jude, Karol, Katrina, Marc, Maria, Pat, Rosie, Sue, and Tony, thank you for your ‘sharing’. I’ve learnt so much from being with you and will always treasure our time together, you are wonderful people. Also, a huge welcome to our two Thursday TCC babies!

A special thanks to my good friend Denise Snell who kindly looked after me every Wednesday evening on my way down to Reading, it meant a lot.

To my colleagues at SACCS, Lesley Stephens, Lee Ridgley, Niall Kelly and Steve Elliott who have had to hold the fort while I’ve been away in Reading, and who have been interested, helpful and tolerated my pre-occupation. To Rob McKay who encouraged me to go and believed I could do it and Patrick Tomlinson for support and advice. To all the Managers and their teams for helping me with the questionnaires and especially the three teams who welcomed me into their assessments, this study is down to you guys. A special to the children at SACCS who always have so much to teach us and to the adults who continue to care.

To my family, Charlie, George, Molly, Ben and Charley-rose, thank you for putting up with my ‘disappearing act', with a promise to be back soon! A special mention to Charlie, who encouraged me to keep going at a point where I wanted to give up, and for his technical support. Also to my sister Corinne Taylor, and my best friends Fiona Gordon and Janice Betteridge who are always there when I need them and who have promised to take me out as soon as this is over!

Finally to my mom (posthumously) and dad with whom I’ve spent the whole journey of this dissertation, thank you and I love you both.






Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Literature review

Chapter 3 Research methods and ethical issues

Chapter 4 Context: the company and its assessment protocols

Chapter 5 Findings

Chapter 6 Personal reflection

Chapter 7 Reflection on findings

Chapter 8 Summary and Conclusion



Appendix 1 School age patterns of attachment

Appendix 2 Assessing attachment in children

Appendix 3 Observation checklist

Appendix 4 Identifying attachment behaviour

Appendix 5 Quality of relationships questionnaire

Appendix 6 Permission request

Appendix 7 Letter to Patrick Tomlinson

Appendix 8 Organisational map

Appendix 9 24 Outcomes for recovery

Appendix 10 SACCS recovery assessment graph

Appendix 11a Results of 56 Completed Questionnaires

Appendix 11b Discussion of data collected in the small-scale survey

Appendix 12 Questions from the SACCS Recovery Assessment

Appendix 13 Analysis of scores from assessment paperwork

Appendix 14 Interaction cycles

Appendix 15 Review of collected data

Appendix 16 Therapeutic approaches