Credit hours:

Course Summary

Placement in care often brings complicated feelings of shame, relief, or guilt for children and youth. In order to effectively serve and provide for their needs, we need to help children and youth recognize their grief and meet them where they are in their grieving process. Through this module, you will gain knowledge and tools to help children and youth cope with feelings of grief and ambiguous loss.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • Information about ambiguous loss and complicated grief
  • Unique challenges children and youth in care may face through the grieving process
  • The ways grief and trauma can manifest in a child or youth's behaviors
  • Strategies children and youth 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 its valuable introduction to the grief children and youth may experience due to being part of the foster care system. 

Step 2

The effects of grief that children and youth in foster care experience vary based on their developmental age. 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 and youth.

Step 3

Review the following article "Ambiguous Loss Haunts Foster and Adopted Children" to learn about the inevitable loss a child or youth experiences during their foster care (sometimes repeatedly) 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 child or young person in foster care may experience 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?

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

Tiniakiap's picture

Tiniakiap said:

I have a better outlook,, of trying to incorporate, some of my foster kids traditions etc,
bstephens12's picture

bstephens12 said:

I think it is important to recognize as a foster parent that the children in my care will eventually leave our home. I need to be involved in their case plan, facilitate ties to their family of origin, and remain a part of their future to minimize additional loss as much as possible.
CarolynJohnson1's picture

CarolynJohnson1 said:

I think its necessary to sit down and speak with the child one on one to understand what the grief is about. We have to find common ground to understand the child's emotions, etc. We could possibly bring any siblings around him/her to ease their discomfort about being in a different environment. Visitations are non-negotiable.'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.