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The Removal Study (completed)

The project investigates the level of stress in children removed from home by the Child Protective Services (CPS) and explores how this may affect the children’s adjustment into a new foster home. The decision about which care order (e.g., planned or acute removal from home) should be carried out may have different consequences for the child’s cognitive function.

Photo: Stock.xchng

About the project

Even when it is necessary to remove children from their home, a separation from biological home may be a particular stressful experience for all involved. Which circumstances contribute to make such a separation less difficult? To what extent does preparation of the child before removal have a positive effect on the child’s level of stress during removal? Does the CPS have an emergency preparedness model to use for increasing their competence in the removal situation? To be able to answer these questions, we are currently conducting a prospective longitudinal study in which children’s reactions and memory from a removal is investigated. The present study may give us more knowledge about the effects of removal type, and how stress impacts memory functions differently depending on the removal procedure. The unique aspect of this study includes a researcher attending all of the removals, which enables us to have an overview over the different phases and events that the individual child is taken through. We use observations, interviews, structured tests, and particular tasks in the data collection.

The project has several sub-projects as for example assessments of biological parents stress level, parents own difficulties, and finally their memory of the removal. A second sub-project is to investigate whether the biological parents’ attachment style influences the level of observed stress in children and parents. As a third sub-project, parent’s ability to reflect over their children’s situation and how this relates to the background information is examined. In addition, we analyze possible age differences in regard to what children recall from the event. Finally, a sub-project in which the CPS workers level of stress and memory from the removal will be investigated.


Improved understanding of factors that facilitate the removal procedure is of essential importance in promoting the children’s adaptation after the removal. Our aim with investigating a stressful event such as a removal from home, is to help developing guidance into the practical field and simultaneously acquire more knowledge about how stress may affect the children’s cognitive function. The latter will contribute to development of theory within this field, and be an important supplement to other design and investigations of trauma and cognition, such as clinical, analogue and retrospective studies.

Published Nov. 26, 2010 4:00 PM - Last modified Nov. 30, 2018 1:00 PM