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

adrienne1234's picture

adrienne1234 said:

this course help me understand how children deal with loss's picture

mikenjulieclark... said:

listen and give them space to greive's picture

mikenjulieclark... said:

by acknowledging and giving them time to grieve
pshow's picture

pshow said:

This course help me understand more about how the children deal with loss of their parents and home.
brett2634's picture

brett2634 said:

I think letting them know it is okay to grieve can be very freeing for them. Acknowledging that foster and adoption are not always happy occasions can help them feel comfortable expressing grief.
Eddie Vinson's picture

Eddie Vinson said:

This helped me understand that my now 4 year old that has been with us since birth along with his sister since 4 years old can still be affected by loss. I never would have thought! It has been suggested to make some sort of picture story book to tell a story of his and his sisters life so they can have an understanding of what they have and still have for family. Thanks for this training.
Janelle Musser's picture

Janelle Musser said:

This reminded me not to focus on the behavior but to focus on the grief and all of their emotions they are experiencing. I think allowing them a safe place to talk and share their emotions is very critical. It is also important to remember that it is a process and even when the child is doing well for awhile something can trigger all those emotions all over again.
andidoll's picture

andidoll said:

Realizing, acknowledging and accepting that the child is grieving a loss is so important.
jtucker's picture

jtucker said:

by acknowledging that it exists and allowing the youth to feel what they feel
guzman's picture

guzman said:

by being there and ready to listen