Credit hours:

Course Summary

The removal of children and youth from their caregiver(s) to whom they are attached can have both positive and negative aspects. From a child protection perspective, separation can have benefits, the most obvious being immediate safety. Separating a parent and child can also have profoundly negative effects. Even when it is necessary, research indicates that removing children and youth from their homes interferes with their development. The more traumatic the separation, the more likely there will be significant negative developmental consequences. It is imperative that foster parents and other child welfare stakeholders be informed about how separation and loss impacts the children and youth they care for and how to help minimize the impact.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • What separation and loss may look like for a child or youth when losing their caregiver, siblings or other close relatives
  • Challenges children and youth may face when suffering from a traumatic separation, both generally and developmentally

  • How an adult supporter may be able to help a child or youth experiencing separation and loss

  • Strategies and tools available to assist and help children and youth develop coping skills

Step 1

Review the following article,  "Children with Traumatic Separation: Information for Professionals," an issue developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, which provides information and guidance to young people who experience traumatic separation from a caregiver, siblings or other close relatives.

Step 2

Review the following article, "Effects of Separation and Loss on Children's Development," by Susan Hois, to gain insight on the psychological impact of losing parents due to divorce, incarceration, death and/or removal to foster care at various stages of development.

Step 3

Review the excerpt "My Stuff" on page 7 of FosterClub's Quick Start Guide, for teens entering foster care. Often, what is unknown is the scariest part of foster care. Providing young people with a method of control helps eliminate unknown factors and make them feel more comfortable in their current situation.

Step 4

Review the information provided in "Keeping Connected to Siblings," excerpted from FosterClub's Quick Start Guide, which outlines important things for a young person to consider when thinking about bio-family connections. Relationships with family can be tough for any teen, but when foster care is involved, things can get even more complicated. Helping a young person understand the details and their rights concerning visits or connections to loved ones may help ease the fear and anxiety that separation often creates. 

Step 5

Review the following worksheet developed by FosterClub to help children gain a better understanding of what separation from their family members looks like and ideas about how to keep in touch with important people, excerpted from FosterClub's Foster Cub Coloring Book. Having a conversation with the younger youth in your care may prove to be a little more complicated than a conversation with a teen.

Step 6

Review the following worksheet, "What will we do on a visit?" An excerpt from FosterClub's Foster Cub Coloring Book. Easing the uncertainty for children in your care when it comes to visits with biological family is important. Beyond initial greetings, family visits can become awkward for the child and visitor alike. Plan ahead with the child about things they can do at their visit, and help pack a bag with items that promote interactivity and connection.

Step 7

Review the worksheet below, "What will my family be doing in foster care?" Often the anxiety that evolves from separation is the lack of knowledge regarding what the rest of the young person's family will be doing in foster care. Help begin a conversation about what family members may be up to during the young person's absence from the home. This could also be used during visitation with family members. Excerpted from FosterClub's Foster Cub Coloring Book.

Step 8

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

How can you help minimize the impact of separation on a child or youth in your home when visits and/or communications with their birth family is not an option?

Step 9

Finished the module? If you are logged in as a subscribed user, take the quiz to earn your Continuing Education Credit hours and certificate! 

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Course Discussion

tesk87's picture

tesk87 said:

To help children that have no contact with bio's, they need to feel part of your family. Each case is different, when bio's don't want nothing to do with the children make sure they see themselves in pictures and involved in the family. Make sure they feel part of the extended family too.
Blair's picture

Blair said:

Write notes, draw pictures, make cards to be given when those people can be seen again
0togo7's picture

0togo7 said:

If missing a loved tradition or event give the child the opportunity to talk about it or facilitate bringing it to life.
0togo7's picture

0togo7 said:

If missing a loved tradition or event give the child the opportunity to talk about it or facilitate bringing it to life.
sfin74's picture

sfin74 said:

Have them discuss openly when they are confortable about their family. Allow them to feel comfortable to think and talk about the circumstances and their family so they have closure.
SeanL's picture

SeanL said:

Provide a stuff animal to help ease the transition. Also giving that child some time to grieve from what just happened and to ease them in to the new changes that are ahead with the use of their case worker, support, activities and understanding will help them through this and to stay in contact or try to with other family if it is allowed.
ShaParent's picture

ShaParent said:

We have an open line of communication to discuss his family. We also pray for his family each day.
adevos's picture

adevos said:

Encourage children to talk openly about their families and ask them questions about their previous relationships. Maintain positivity.
PamDV's picture

PamDV said:

Encourage kids to write out their memories of their bio families in a journal, frame and display any pictures they might have of family members and write letters (even if they are never sent).
Frances Vaujin's picture

Frances Vaujin said:

play therapy