Enhancing attachment security in the infants of women in a jail-diversion program

Jude Cassidy, Yair Ziv, Brandi Stupica, Laura J. Sherman, Heidi Butler, Andrea Karfgin, Glen Cooper, Kent T. Hoffman, Bert Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pregnant female offenders face multiple adversities that make successful parenting difficult. As a result, their children are at risk of developing insecure attachment and attachment disorganization, both of which are associated with an increased likelihood of poor developmental outcomes. We evaluated the outcomes of participants in Tamar's Children, a 15-month jail-diversion intervention for pregnant, nonviolent offenders with a history of substance abuse. All women received extensive wrap-around social services as well as the Circle of Security Perinatal Protocol (Cooper, Hoffman, & Powell, 2003). We present data on 20 women and their infants who completed the full dosage of treatment (a residential-living phase from pregnancy until infant age six months and community-living phase until 12 months). Results indicated that (1) program infants had rates of attachment security and attachment disorganization comparable to rates typically found in low-risk samples (and more favorable than those typically found in high-risk samples); (2) program mothers had levels of maternal sensitivity comparable to mothers in an existing community comparison group; and (3) improvement over time emerged for maternal depressive symptomatology, but not other aspects of maternal functioning. Given the lack of a randomized control group, results are discussed in terms of the exploratory, program-development nature of the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-353
Number of pages21
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported here was funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to the Mayor and City Council for Baltimore City. We are grateful to Danielle Dallaire and Marinus H. van IJzendoorn who provided helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Portions of these data were presented at the 2007 meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston. The study reported here examined participants who received the Circle of Security Perinatal Protocol (COS-PP) intervention embedded within the context of the additional services provided by the Tamar’s Children program; at the time of publication of this manuscript, the COS-PP intervention was no longer part of the Tamar’s Children program.


  • Attachment
  • Female offenders
  • Incarcerated parents
  • Intervention
  • Maternal sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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