The SSRR Foster Care Project

Using the Safety, Stability, Repair and Resilience Model (SSRR) to help children with complex behaviours stay with their foster carers

Stopping Foster Care Placements Breaking Down

All children in care deserve the opportunity to experience a family setting, and to feel safe and happy and able to achieve their aims and hopes for the future. No child should feel ashamed of their past, and every child can be helped to overcome trauma and negative life experiences with the help of kind and skilled carers.  Our goal here at Studio 3 is to support children and foster carers with the aim of avoiding foster care placements breaking down.

The model has been taken up by leading independent foster care agencies in England, Wales and Ireland and, as with all Studio 3 work, each step of the model is being rigorously researched and evaluated. Our first peer-reviewed papers on the research will be submitted later this year. Initial outcome studies with statistics provided by the foster care agencies are very positive, with placement breakdown being reduced to only 1 in 8 for even the most complex foster care placements, as well as foster carers reporting less stress and more satisfaction within themselves. Whilst these outcomes are still sad for some children, they are a clear improvement on the general situation for most children in foster carer.

The 6 Stages of the ‘Good Life’ Approach

What is the SSRR (Safety, Stability, Repair and Resilence Model)?

SSRR is an integrated and systemic model – meaning that everything and everyone matters. This model takes into account the complexity of young people’s lives and their developmental profile. It is based on the development of positive relationships, trust and secure base attachments between young people and their foster carers


This approach recognises that young people’s brain development can be adversely affected by stress and trauma, and works with an understanding of brain plasticity, seeking to allow neural connections damaged by trauma to repair so that the young person can re-evaluate their world view.


This model:

  • Works in stages that fit the young person’s individual developmental needs

  • Is forward-looking, and equips young people for a future beyond foster care

  • Is based on good practice, research and academic validation

  • Differentiates between managing and changing behaviour, especially challenging behaviour, and helps foster carers to understand the importance of low arousal approaches and creating low-stress home environments

  • Recognises that foster carers are the key agents of change in this process, and that they should always be supported and receive up-to-date training based on best practice

  • Acknowledges that skilled and experienced therapists are integral to the model

  • Is meant to be fun!

"No single therapeutic approach meets the needs of young people in care"

Over the years, we have spoken to a large number of foster carers to try and understand the unique and daily challenges that they face in caring for the children living with them. This approach incorporates Studio 3’s mainstays of creating low-stress environments, practicing trauma-informed care and using low arousal approaches to provide a kind, child-friendly, respectful and developmentally appropriate attitude to caring for vulnerable children.

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'Therapeutically-led placements for children in foster care'

Dave Walker

on the 'Good Life' Foster Care Project

"All children in care deserve the opportunity to experience a family setting, and to feel safe and happy and able to achieve their aims and hopes for the future. No child should feel ashamed of their past, and every child can be helped to overcome trauma and negative life experiences with the help of kind and skilled carers."

The SSRR Approach

By David Walker, Director at Studio 3 

Key Aims


The SSRR Foster Care Approach is a practical, integrated, therapeutic approach focusing on the following key factors:


  • Understanding that young people who have lived complex lives, experienced trauma or have damaged attachments, and who may also have complex psychological health needs, may present with concerning and very hard to understand behaviours, all of which has affected their emotional and physical development.


  • The needs, experience and skills of foster carers who support these young people.


No young person is beyond help, and the SSRR Approach supports young people and their carers through the good, the OK and the very difficult times. 

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Key Objectives for Foster Carers:


This approach focuses primarily on the importance of keeping children safe, and avoiding further vulnerability and exploitation. The relationship between carer and foster child is the most important element in this approach, and that the initial focus should primarily be on safety, stability and balance.


The key objectives of the approach are:

  • Gaining a greater understanding of childhood trauma and the importance of being kind

  • Understanding how helping children to feel safe and be able to identify and trust positive adults helps trauma repair

  • Aiding children to understand and enjoy relationships with friends and helping them to fit in

  • Building self-esteem in yourself and the children you care for

  • Building longer term self-coping skills through unconditional positive regard (UPR), congruency and empathy

  • Learning to enjoy experiences

  • Working with self-image, identity and culture

  • Learning about being thoughtful and reflective, and seeing a positive path through difficult times

  • Identifying what information we are missing to further support the young person (e.g. Does the young person have something else going on?)

  • Involving the family

  • Working to change unhelpful thinking and behaviour, and denounce common child care ‘myths’

  • Improving overall wellbeing for both young people and their carers

  • Developing milestones to measure progress

  • Creating resilience, and establishing clear plans for moving forward

  • Learning more about yourself as a person and as a foster carer (namely that you are the most valuable and important resource in this process)