Credit hours:

Course Summary

For youth in care, placement in care often brings complicated feelings of shame, relief, or guilt. In order to effectively serve and provide for young people, we need to help them recognize their grief and meet them where they are in their grieving process. Gain knowledge and tools to help your child cope with feelings of grief and ambiguous loss through this course.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • About ambiguous loss and complicated grief
  • Unique challenges foster youth face through the grieving process
  • Understand how grief and trauma can manifest in a young person's behavior
  • Strategies a young person can use to cope with ambiguous loss and/or grief

Step 1

Watch the following video "Best Practices for Grief: Foster Care Placement," this video is a part of a series examining grief and loss experiences of children and teens, and was selected because of the valuable introduction it provides about young peoples' grief in foster care:

Step 2

The effects of grief that children in foster care experience vary by the developmental age of the child. Review the following article published by Fostering Perspectives, "The Effects of Grief and Loss on Children in Foster Care", to learn what grief signs to be aware of for all children.

Step 3

Review the following article "Ambiguous Loss Haunts Foster and Adopted Children", to learn about the inevitable loss a young person experiences during their foster care experience (sometimes over and over again) and how incredibly difficult this type of grief is to process.

Step 4

Gregory Manning discusses the difference between a traditional and non-traditional loss and how the profound loss and trauma a young person in foster care experiences manifests and impacts their behaviors in the following video "Grief and Loss for Youth in Foster Care & Adoption":

Step 5

Watch Matthew's video which reflects the trauma, grief, and loss he dealt with throughout his foster care experience. 

Step 6

Review "What Young People Can Do: Healing From Loss", a simple form to help guide and validate a young person healing from loss.

Step 7

Share the "Bill of Rights for Grieving Youth in Foster Care" tool with your child. These Rights reflect the values, dreams, and aspirations of current and former foster youth suffering from tremendous loss and can be helpful to a grieving young person and/or a young person who has not yet begun the grieving process.

Step 8

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

How can you help young people in your care suffering from grief and loss?

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Course Discussion's picture

Robinp@rackerce... said:

I am adopting my niece who is been in my care since six weeks old. The family dynamics have become tense and I think the best way to remedy this is by reaching out to local resources available to adopt a families
Ankromfamily1's picture

Ankromfamily1 said:

These articles and videos helped me realize I should bring up their birth mother sometimes, even when they haven't. Just because they haven't mentioned her doesn't mean that they're not thinking about her. Our adoption day is coming up and we'll work to let them know they can be sad as well as happy.
jdupuis8120's picture

jdupuis8120 said:

Reinforcing their understanding that the grief process can take a long time to recover from, to be patient and empathetic.
scarpetta80's picture

scarpetta80 said:

After reading the first couple articles, particularly about providing a safe space and/or an understanding environment in which a child can express grief or loss, I immediately thought of an analogy I could use. It was bedtime for the little dude, and I sat on his bed and expressed how each foster home is like a hammock. Each hammock, or home, wants to provide the sway, comfort and caring to you, but each of us is different. But in the span of your life, we are all connected in wanting to care for not just your basic needs, but to be there as caregivers in the long-term if possible. I remember reading how transitioning to each home can be chaotic, so I immediately thought of how to connect each home, good or bad, would help compartmentalize the constant change and instability of not knowing what will happen next. Being a foster parent is hard any way you look at it.
Sharon71's picture

Sharon71 said:

Be Compassionate.
sspringer5's picture

sspringer5 said:

Asking them questions to help them process the feelings they have pressed inside them.
Jmonq22's picture

Jmonq22 said:

My wife has been actively involving our 4 year old foster son in discussions about his birth mother and their relationship. It seems to be helping him relax a bit more in this new environment.
carla miller's picture

carla miller said:

I now have a better understanding of the loss a foster child feels about their birth parent/parents and family.
Laberge301's picture

Laberge301 said:

We can be there for them, listen to them, show them that they are loved and cared for and help them grieve.
Demkeys's picture

Demkeys said:

We must allow our children to grieve so they won't bottle it up and allow it to turn to anger. It's our job to listen and do our best to guide our children to be great adults